Two weeks ago, I blogged about Google’s announcement that it would stop providing keyword referral information for a portion of organic searches . At the time, people were kicking around numbers between 1 and 7% – Google claimed this wouldn’t have a big effect on marketers, and some people thought it was no big deal. (For example, both Frank Reed and Alan Bleiweiss called SEOs “myopic” for overreacting to the news.)
However, in just two weeks’ time, the situation has gotten worse, just as many of us feared. Rachael Gerson at SEER Interactive has “proof that Google’s secure search now affects more users ”:
Comparing yesterday (10/31) to the previous Monday, 27 of the sites had over 100% increase in ”(not provided)” traffic. We looked at the data in a second way, as well. Looking at yesterday’s visits compared to the average daily traffic driven by “(not provided)” last week, 30 of the sites had an increase over 100%.
Rachael later updated the post to say that “Looking at yesterday’s data, saying the ‘(not provided)’ numbers jumped is an understatement … Out of the 37 sites, 16 had over 10% of the Google organic traffic come from “(not provided)” and one of the sites was at 21.05%. Far more than the single digit impact that was estimated early on.”
Daniel Waisberg at Search Engine Land also reported a spike in the numbers: “Keyword ‘Not Provided’ By Google Spikes, Now 7-14% In Cases ”:
As of October 31, we have seen a very significant increase on the Not Provided figure here on Search Engine Land. It’s not just us, either. Looking at data from several websites across industries, we see a range of 7% to 14% of total organic keywords now being blocked.
He points out that this is rolling out to users over the course of several weeks, which means the percentages are likely to get higher still.
Dave Naylor was curious how many visitors to his site were logged into Google , and the results “sent a small shiver down [his] back” – turns out over a quarter (26.5%) of them are.
SEOs are none too happy about this. Here are just a few of the tweets that popped up in my stream yesterday morning:
Occupy Google Reader Update
Earlier this week, the changes we heard about were rolled out to Google Reader . The results? It’s even worse than I feared – not only are the social features gone, significantly reducing the appeal of the product, but it feels clunky and less, well, readable.
A couple of ex-Google employees have piped up to express their concerns. Kevin Fox, the former lead designer for Google Reader, is disappointed with the results :
Now that the Google Reader redesign has gone live, it seems clear that the stripping of social functionality is only one of many significant problems that have come from repainting the product with the broad brush of Google’s new visual style guide. Affordances have gone awry, the relative implied importance of use cases (such as subscribing) have fallen out of balance, and visual grouping of related items has been whitewashed away, to name a few problems.
And he’s offering to rejoin the team for a three-month contract “to restore and enhance the utility of Google Reader, while keeping it in line with Google’s new visual standards requirements … to ensure that Google Reader keeps its place as the premier news reader, and raises the bar of what a social newsreader can be.”
It would be great if Google took him up on that, but I have my doubts.
Brian Shih, an ex-PM on Google Reader who left the company in July, also has a list of complaints about the redesign , which he dubs a “disaster.” Among them:
- The huge header bar which shrinks the space in which you can actually read: “Taking the UI paradigm for G+ and mashing it onto Reader without any apparent regard for the underlying function is awful and it shows.”
- The super-bland black-and-white “color scheme”: “someone took the magic color-removing wand and drenched the whole page in grey. It's so unbelievably stark, it's hard to imagine a more desolate experience.”
- The sharing non-improvements and the fact that sharing requires you to publically +1 an item to share even to private circles, unless you can manage to find the extremely non-obvoius workaround: “the new sharing flow around the +1 button has actually made it harder to share … So much for building a network around privacy controls.”
- They’ve made it impossible to consume shared material within the product itself: “It's almost as if Google wants to demonstrate that, yes, they don't really get platforms .” (See my earlier post on Google’s blind spot  here.)
He says that Reader has always been neglected as a product, which is unfortunate, because although it “never achieved the massively popular status of Gmail or Google News,” it did “develop a fanatical following of users, and was one of the few places that Google was able to experiment with and learn about social features .”
Agreed on all counts. I’m still pissed!
More Web Marketing Highlights
Paddy Morgan at Distilled writes a big meaty guide on the essentials of link building .
Annabel Hodges talks about five simple but effective SEO and social tactics  she’s seen over the past month.
Marketing Pilgrim shows us the breakdown of digital ad revenue dollars  – Google is taking the lion’s share, but there’s still a lot of room for competition.
Another good case study from Unbounce: “Using Video to Lift Landing Page Conversion Rate by 100% ”
Aaron Wall works through some potential usage and brand signals for Panda , including query volume, click distribution, query chains, user acceptance and more.
Have a good weekend all.