51 Million Visits Analyzed: [Not Provided] 16% of Google Organic Traffic

51 Million Visits Analyzed: [Not Provided] 16% of Google Organic Traffic


I spent last week out in San Francisco at SMX West. Conductor CEO Seth Besmertnik gave an excellent session on Search Marketing & Competitive Analysis and I presented on a panel on Life in a [Not Provided] World.

The energy was great and there were a number of excellent sessions on search and social related topics. The most difficult part was choosing between sessions running at the same time. Danny Sullivan and co. did a great job with this year’s conference.

While there were no magic bullets [at SMX West] for recouping the keyword data that has been lost, a starting point for dealing with the situation is understanding the landscape in which it is occurring. Over the next week or so, we’re going to share some of the analysis we did in advance of SMX West and presented in the “Life in a [Not Provided] World” session.

Despite the great energy and the knowledge dropping at the conference, there was an unmistakable air of concern both in-person and on Twitter about many of Google’s recent machinations. Given that the conference is called the Search Marketing Conference and the attendees therefore seemed to be primarily comprised of Search Marketing practitioners, much of that concern was understandably focused on the loss of keyword data due to Google’s encrypted search. It was the topic of more than one session and came up repeatedly in conversation.

While there were no magic bullets for recouping the keyword data that has been lost, the point was made more than once that a starting point for dealing with the situation is understanding the landscape in which it is occurring. To that end, over the next week or so, we’re going to share some of the analysis we did in advance of SMX West and presented in the Life in a [Not Provided] World session. And, we’ll add some additional color that we did not share at the conference.

Landscape Analysis Week-over-Week in Five Industries

Our first view of the [Not Provided] landscape is through the lens of web analytics. In a nod to how the industry seems to be measuring the extent of the issue, we looked at the % of google organic traffic that is [Not Provided]. The highlights of our research included a week-over-week analysis from October 19th, 2011 through February 7th, 2012:

25 Major Sites, 5 per Industry:

  • Education
  • Online Retail
  • Banking
  • Enterprise Technology
  • Travel

All told, more than 51 Million natural search visits were analyzed.

[Not Provided] Averaging 16%-17% Across All Industries

Our analysis showed in the trailing four weeks from Jan. 7- Feb 7, across all industries [not provided visits] ranged, on average from 16%-17%.

The analysis further showed:

  • [Not Provided] Mostly Leveled Out in mid-Nov: [Not Provided] traffic worked its way up from launch in mid-October to a peak in mid-November, when, for the most part, it leveled off.
  • Differences Across Industries A key question we had going into the analysis was whether there would be significant variances in [not provided] percentages across industries, or if we would see industries clustered within a few percentage points of each other. We found that things varied significantly from industry to industry, ranging from 10%-13% in online retail to 22%-24% for the banking industry. This suggests it will be important for Marketers to understand the specifics of what is occurring in their own space before formulating a go-forward plan.
  • High Traffic Industry in the Middle of the Spectrum: Another key question we had was where on the [not provided] spectrum high traffic industries would fall. Would the high volume of traffic result in a higher percentage of [not provided]traffic? Less than other industries?
    The travel industry had several hundred percentage points more traffic than the other industries we studied, but the percentage of [not provided] traffic was in the mid-range of all industries at 14%-16%.

SMX session not provided keywords data

In our next post, we’ll take a look at the [not provided] landscape from a different perspective. We’ll analyze what we can expect to see going forward in terms of [not provided] traffic by examining results from a survey of online users Google logged-in behavior we fielded in February.

If you don’t want to wait to find out how frequently users are logged-in to Google when they surf online or if want more color around the [not provided] landscape, download the full SMX West presentation here.

About Nathan Safran

Nathan is the Director of Research at Conductor and leads Conductor’s research and content team. Nathan is a monthly columnist at Search Engine Land and Search Engine Watch. Nathan’s research on digital marketing has been widely covered in both industry publications and mainstream media such as Techcrunch, Venture Beat and the Washington Post. Prior to joining Conductor, Nathan was an analyst at Forrester Research.

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