Are Facebook Pages Getting Less Traffic From Google & Bing?

This January Google launched “Search Plus Your World (SPYW),” a service that drastically customized search results based on social connections while bolstering visibility of Google+ products. While the new changes absolutely increased visibility for Google+, there was concern that SPYW would negatively affect other social networks.  Five months into the SPYW, traffic to Facebook Pages is down. However, it’s also down from Bing, suggesting that SPYW isn’t to blame.

PageLever, a Facebook analytics company, uncovered a significant drop in traffic post SPYW launch. The company studied 500 fan pages with a minimum of 10,000 fans, looking at external referrals from Bing and Google. Internal Facebook referrals and searches did not play a factor in the data.  The overall results show that Google traffic to Facebook pages has dropped 51%:

Before the Search Plus Your World launch, Google drove 9.25% of the external traffic to Facebook pages. After the SPYW launch, that percentage of Google referrals was down to just 4.52%.

Surprisingly, the numbers were down on Bing as well, dropping 59% year over year. For Bing to also drop suggests there’s some issue with Facebook getting traffic in general from the major search engines, not that SPYW is to blame.

NOTE: Previously we’d headlined this story “Google Sending 51% Less Traffic To Facebook Pages Since “Search Plus Your World” Launch; Bing Drops, Too” but looking further at the data, and after some follow-up with PageLever, the Bing drop makes the SPYW connection seem less likely. So, we’ve changed our headline and qualified the lead further.

The takeaway if that Facebook Pages seem to getting less traffic from both Google and Bing, but why exactly is unclear.

NOTE 2: PageLever has checked further, and the fall in traffic from Google and Bing began on January 7, not January 10, when Search Plus Your World was launched. It has since updated its post to reflect this. So, this drop definitely seems unrelated to SPYW.

A few large unattributed spikes do show on both Bing and Google as well.

Quantcast numbers do show a aggregate drop in Facebook’s overall traffic since January, but does also show a slight peak in late February (near the launch of the official fMC event):

For a full report and statistics, see PageLever.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Google | Google: Search Plus Your World


About The Author: is the Chief Marketing Officer for Cypress North, a company that specializes in social media and search marketing services and web-based application development. He has been in the Internet marketing industry for 6+ years and specializes in Social Media Marketing. You can also find Greg on Twitter (@gregfinn) or LinkedIn.

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  • myrstad

    If I understand this correctly: The referral traffic from Google to Facebook has decreased 51%, and the referral traffic from Bing to Facebook has decreased 59%, with a couple of weeks delay.

    So the title COULD be: Bing sending sending 59% less Traffic to Facebook Pages since Google launced “Search Plus Your World”.

    I DO understand that such a title is not tabloid news. But what do we do then, as investigating reporters: Try to find an explanation which also can explain the Bing development? Thas is, an explanation that is has NOTHING to do with the “Search Plus Your World”. Would not that be reasonable?

  • Mark Welch

    What I find interesting is that recently, I’m seeing more results from LinkedIn, in results from Google Searches for “people names” and “company names.”  Often, LinkedIn results appear before the person’s or business’ professional home page.  And of course, to view most of the content on any LinkedIn page I’m forced to actually log in to LinkedIn.

    For an example, try searching Google for “Mark Welch PPC.” I’m seeing not one but TWO separate links to LinkedIn before the link to my professional home page.

  • Danny Sullivan

    The title could be that, sure. We actually added Bing to the headline and put a qualification in the lead a few minutes after posting, because that qualification seemed fair. In the story itself, you’ll also see a section where we list one reason why this might have nothing to do with SPYW and note that we’re checking if there are other possible reasons.

  • Dennis Goedegebuure

    Looking at the traffic in relative terms might give you the wrong idea, aka search (SEO) traffic for Facebook is down.
    Even if SEO traffic would be stable in absolute terms, if other sources has grown significantly, the percentage of the total SEO would represents would decline.

    It would be good to have a look at the methodology:
    “I measured the top external traffic referrers for Fan pages. To make
    sure the sample was reasonably accurate, I measured 500 fan pages. I
    made sure each fan page had at least 100,000 fans to make sure there
    each page had a significant number of pageviews.”

    So hypothetically, it could be the case external referral sources due to the IPO roadshow or the growth of Facebook Apps and Pinterest growth are contributing to the “relative decline” in SEO traffic.

    This is why I always would look at both relative and absolute growth/decline numbers to understand what exactly is going on!

  • Danny Sullivan

    Heard back from PageLever, and it’s still unclear why the dropped happened. But it’s pretty clear this doesn’t seem to be something that’s just SPYW related, so we’ve change the headline further and added a note about this to the story.

  • Roland Nagtegaal

    January 7th was the first day I heard about Facebook testing frictionless sharing. So, if the numbers shown are indeed relative, this could be the source for the drop. Other sources sent more traffic, so the percentage from Google and Bing dropped.

  • Jeff Widman

    Hey Roland,
    Jeff here from PageLever – this graph actually measures the average pageviews per day per page for the dataset we measured, not a percentage. So it’s not affected by the amount of traffic from other sources. There’s a longer explanation in the original post on our blog:

  • Roland Nagtegaal

    Thank you Jeff for this explanation. 

    Then I would say: something changed on Facebook that caused pages on their site to be less findable.By the way: funny to see in the graph that Bing is a bit slower then Google to react to changes. The spikes in the Bing graph lack behind the spikes in the Google graph. 

  • daposter

    basic trouble shooting suggests that FB is shooting itself in the foot by providing bad links

  • Geoff S.

    Maybe people have finally just realized how to use their bookmarks, custom start page links and found more direct ways to get there than typing facebook in google or bing and hitting the first link.

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