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Study: What Google's 'not provided' means for brands
Just over a year ago Google changed how it identified and reported search traffic to begin using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to better identify traffic to websites. This enhancement was supposed to protect consumer identities. This, of course, has made it more difficult for some brands to create personalized web experiences because instead of finding what drew a shopper to a site, the search terms returned read "not provided".
While savvy brands accept that some users want to remain anonymous, brands continue to scramble to serve these newly anonymized users. Even with the change online brands can measure SEO performance, but search terms can't be connected to users which means some personalization is left undone.
Optify recently completed a study, showing how Google's change is impacting traffic. Over 11 months they tracked more than 400 websites, 17 million visits and 7.2 million referring keywords.
Some interesting findings include:
• Referring keywords from organic search are down 49%
• "not provided" Google results account for about 40% of organic traffic to B2B sites, a 171% increase
• Nearly two-thirds of respondents report between 30% - 50% of traffic from Google is labeled "not provided"
With the increase in "not provided" results, what should a brand do to better measure search effectiveness? Optify suggests:
• Use Google's Webmaster Tools, take advantage of the daily search query and landing pages data to measure traffic sources
• Use 'other' data to personalize - like pages viewed, tagging and form submissions
• Use proxies like keyword rank and page ranks to estimate how keywords are performing
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