Google ‘not provided’ Now 40% or More of B2B Organic Search Traffic

Yes, I am biased about the value of Optify and the idea that the marketing athlete in today’s B2B companies and digital marketing agencies need way better tools. However, in this instance, we are trying to just raise the flag on an issue.  We’re talking big..really big. If you are an SEO specialist, you’re already aware that your SEO data is going away…quickly. However, if you are not a specialist you might not have seen this trend.

Today, we announced the findings of a study analyzing a privacy setting introduced by Google last year, which now lists referring keywords from organic search as “not provided.” Our data suggests that this privacy setting is primarily affecting SEO professionals and point solutions in the short term, but will impact all marketers and businesses in the long term.

I also had the opportunity to brief several publications about this issue and I hope to see them “print” the story over the next hours/days.

The study shows that since the inception of this privacy setting twelve months ago, the “not provided” rate (the percent of blocked referrer data from Organic search) has increased by 171 percent to account for almost 40 percent of referring keywords to B2B sites. The trend of “not provided” is continuously increasing, and may 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 our key findings include:

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

Optify’s study analyzed a sample set of 424 B2B websites between November 1, 2011 to October 1, 2012 to determine the percentage 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.

From my perspective, referrer data from organic search is quickly disappearing, and I believe that soon the majority of referring keywords will be listed as “not provided”.  Fair warning, if you are a digital marketing agency providing only SEO services, it’s time to start diversifying.

Our study doesn’t leave you hanging!  We share tips about how to handle the lack of referring data and includes best practices such as creating informative, interesting, and relevant content, and amplifying the messages through social networks. To download a free copy of the report, please visit: Optify Study

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