Today Google has retired Google Reader joining a long list of other Google products that have been discontinued. See a full list by clicking the Wordstream infographic to the right.
The reason offered by Google: “usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products.”
I suppose it’s to be expected when you have an organizational culture where 20% of your time can be spent experimenting on new projects. Of those that make it to market as betas, many will not become viable as contributions to the business. Luckily, in the case of Google Reader there are plenty of alternatives like Feedly.
Of the many services and tools listed in the “Google Graveyard” image, I can’t say I miss any of them. But I will miss the familiar External Keyword Tool which is next on the Google chopping block.
Like many other sources of useful information for webmasters, such as the referring organic keywords in analytics, Google is removing a public service but continuing to make it available for advertisers.
The message from Google: “In the coming months, the external Keyword Tool will no longer be available. To get keyword ideas, sign in to your AdWords account and try Keyword Planner.” directs users to the Keyword Planner page which says, “Now you can research keywords even easier with Keyword Planner, a new tool that combines Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator”.
External Keyword Tool
Google’s Keyword Tool users will need to create a Google AdWords account, which is more of a momentary inconvenience if not a proxy to becoming a Google advertiser. At the moment, you don’t need to be spending money with Google advertising in order to have a Google AdWords account. Getting keyword ideas for free is still available – for now.
The tools don’t work the same, but website owners will still be able to conduct keyword research in order to anticipate demand for topics related to their products and services. Additionally, Keyword Planner offers the promise of researching keyword ideas and the ability to estimate traffic.
Beyond supplying a PPC advertising campaign with keyword targets, such keyword insight is valuable for optimizing existing website, blog and social content as well as inspiring new content topics to better meet the needs of customers looking for solutions. There are other free keyword research tools available including Wordstream and Wordtracker (both free tools are very limited) and Bing (which like Google, also requires a login).
One keyword research tool in particular that’s handy without any barriers to access is Ubersuggest. This tool provides lists of the suggested words Google offers as you type in virtually any language and for searches on the web, images, news, shopping and video.
It might be argued that Google has the right to “gate” (require login, exclusion) a free tool like the External Keyword Tool for use by its paying customers. Of course they do.
At the same time, it’s worth noting that virtually ALL of the content Google hosts is copied from other companies like yours and mine. Google copies our content, organizes it and runs ads next to our content. This is a useful service for which Google has made billions. And yet, tools that webmasters find useful for optimizing that content are being changed so direct access is only available for those with an advertising connection.
For companies that have enjoyed visibility on Google in the organic listings without paying Google for advertising, the options for useful information directly from Google seem to be diminishing. Sure, Google Webmaster Tools provide many useful data points for optimization, but many of the more useful tools like organic referring keywords that drive clicks to your website and the ability to easily research keyword ideas have become less accessible or “not provided”, pun intended.
Besides the External Keyword Tool, which Google service do you think will be discontinued next? Feedburner? Blogger?