Keyword “Not Provided” By Google Spikes, Now 7-14% In Cases
Google’s new encrypted search for logged in users now appears to be blocking a much higher percentage of search terms than when it initially rolled out two weeks ago. In some cases, it might even be higher than the 10% or less figure that the company initially predicted might be impacted.
Blocking Search Queries
Two weeks ago Google announced that it would start encrypting search sessions of anyone signed in to Google.com. In practice, this means that Google stopped passing the organic keywords that referred traffic to websites whenever users are logged in Google and conducting searches.
This change caused strong reactions, both in the web analytics industry (as this means that organic search becomes less trackable) and also in terms of whether Google was protecting privacy fully (since advertisers still receive this information).
Single Digit Impact Predicted
Google predicted that the change would impact 10% or less of searches:
Google software engineer Matt Cutts, who’s been involved with the privacy changes, wouldn’t give an exact figure but told me he estimated even at full roll-out, this would still be in the single-digit percentages of all Google searchers on Google.com.
High Single Digit To Above 10% Now Happening
However, as of October 31, we have seen a very significant increase on the Not Provided figure here on Search Engine Land. It’s not just us, either. Looking at data from several websites across industries, we see a range of 7% to 14% of total organic keywords now being blocked.
Below you see how the “Not Provided” figure has suddenly spiked for Search Engine Land:
Below you can see how the percentage of Not Provided for the total organic keywords for November 1st to the site is above 10%, 12.87% in all:
The figure is even more dramatic, however, when you consider it as a percentage of Google-driven keywords. In other words, the 12.87% figure above means that for ALL keywords from ANY search engine to Search Engine Land, 12.87% of them were blocked.
As this blocking is only happening by Google, what’s the percentage of only keyword traffic from Google? That works out to 14.2%.
Of course, one might expect Search Engine Land to have a higher percentage of search-driven traffic than other sites. But as said, we’ve also looked at sites beyond Search Engine Land.
Danny Sullivan’s personal blog, Daggle, had 13.65% of its Google-driven keywords blocked. One non-tech site had 7.1% of its Google-driven queries reporting “Not Provided.” Another non-tech site we know of had 8.83% of all its keywords reporting as “Not Provided.”
We’d love to hear what others are finding — please comment below, if you’d like to share your figures.
Postscript: Conductor posted a few days after our report that it found 6.5% of Google-driven searches from high traffic sites they monitor had keywords blocked.
Rollout Still Happening; Percentage Could Get Higher
The rollout was supposed to take place over the course of several weeks. The process is still happening, and it seems as if it was suddenly enabled for more users on October 31.
Google wouldn’t confirm that, nor say how complete the rollout is at this point. In general, the company said:
As we noted, this change will occur over the next few weeks. Traffic figures will naturally vary depending on a website’s audience. What we provided was an estimate.
If there are significantly more people not yet being included in encrypted search, the percentage of Not Provided queries would likely grow over the coming weeks.
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