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Optify Study: Google's "Not Provided" Rises To Almost 40% Of Organic Traffic For B2B Sites

Optify has announced the findings of its study analyzing a privacy setting introduced by Google last year that now lists referring keywords from organic search as "not provided." As BizReports described, Google changed how it identified and reported search traffic to begin using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to better identify traffic to websites; this, ostensibly, to protect consumer identities.

But it's playing hell with personalization and targeting. The study reveals that since the inception of the privacy setting twelve months ago, the "not provided" rate (the percent of blocked referrer data from Organic search) has increased by 171% to account for almost 40% of referring keywords to B2B sites.

"The 'not provided' data is extremely frustrating," said one commentator on Optify's site. "I've seen those numbers well above 50% and it will only continue to rise. It's too bad because Google Analytics really is the best Analytics tool out there."

Optify asks, is Google inching toward charging for its "free" data?

"Referrer data from organic search is quickly disappearing, and we believe that soon the majority of referring keywords will be listed as 'not provided,' said Rob Eleveld, CEO of Optify. "This is yet another example of how the SEO practice is at the mercy of search engines, and we believe it's time for B2B marketers to focus on the data they have for creating a personalized experience for their visitors and leads. If you are a digital marketing agency providing only SEO services, it’s time to start diversifying."

"Not Provided" Frequency Nearly Doubled In A Year

The trend of "not provided" is continuously increasing, and Optify believes, is likely continue to do so until the majority of organic referring data completely disappears. Marketers will still be able to measure their overall SEO performance and report on ROI, since the visit source will still be Organic Search, but will not be able to analyze what keywords contributed to that performance or report ROI on any specific SEO initiative. Since search data helps companies learn more about their targeted audience, including their preferences and behavioral history, this presents a major challenge for B2B marketers.

A summary of the key findings include:

  • Google "not provided" now accounts for almost 40% of referring traffic data from organic search, an increase of 171% since originally introduced a year ago.
  • 64% of companies analyzed in the study see 30 to 50% of their traffic from Google as "not provided."
  • 81% of the companies analyzed in the study see over 30% of their traffic from Google as "not provided.
  • Recognized referring keywords from organic search declined by 49%.

Optify's study analyzed a sample set of 424 B2B websites between November 1, 2011 to October 1, 2012 to determine the%age of visits from organic search that showed as "not provided." A total of 17,143,603 visits to those sites from organic search, equating to an average of 1,428,634 visits per month, and a total of 7,241,093 referring keywords were tracked. The parameters of this study included only US based .com sites with 100 to 100,000 monthly visits.

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