Google (Not Provided) Results Impacting About 9% of Traffic

The amount of data being hidden thanks to Google's SSL search decision has been climbing steadily but now seems to be leveling out. The most recent research indicates that about 9 percent of referrer data is being blocked.

What Portion of Results Are SSL'd?

While each site and industry will experience the results differently, some recent data indicates that about 8.875 percent of searches are being blocked. This study was done by Conductor, which looked at five major sites.

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While the small sample size increases the potential margin of error, a visible trend is surfacing: sites peaked in (not provided) search queries on or around November 15. Since then, the percentages have leveled out, with sites declining to the 8.875 percent average mentioned earlier.

After Google announced SSL search would be implemented, effectively blocking keyword and other granular-level search data, SEOs and webmasters quickly panicked. Google spokespeople responded that webmasters should only lose data from a "single digit percentage" of searches.

However, the industry has watched as the percent of results being blocked continued to climb, with a 6.5 percent in late October turning into 11 percent on November 11, according to HubSpot.

While it's uncertain whether the trend of leveling out will continue, and more broad-scale investigation is warranted, the Conductor research gives a general idea of what to expect. While the exact figures will vary up and down somewhat, sites should expect roughly 9 percent of referrer data to be blocked.

Here's a look at what we're seeing here at Search Engine Watch for (not provided) results during the same period Conductor looked at:

  • Oct. 19-26: 2.13 percent
  • Oct. 27-Nov. 3: 10.03 percent
  • Nov. 4-10: 16.13 percent
  • Nov. 11-17: 17.78 percent

Let us know in the comments what you're seeing on your sites now.

The Data-Blocking Controversy

After the launch of the automatic SSL searching, the community (including commenters on our Google SSL story) burst into an uproar. While some were in favor of SSL, many were concerned about the impact on their SEO.

One of the greatest contributors to the controversy was that Google made an exception for AdWords customers. Users continue to receive keyword data for ad clicks, despite what was allegedly a hard-and-fast, consumer-protection decision from Google.

Derek Edmond of KoMarketing Associates wrote a guide on the SSL changes for business-to-business marketers, reminding webmasters that there are still ways to get the keyword data – even if you can't get the same granular results. Aviniash Kaushik also has five tips for (not provided) data analysis.

For Google, the balance is tricky. Favoring webmasters has the potential to hurt privacy, while favoring users could prevent sites from targeting effectively or meeting consumer needs.

Do you think Google has handled this choice well? How would you prefer things change? Leave your thoughts, complaints, and concerns in the comments.

About the author

Rob is a search engine, SEO, and net technology enthusiast. His work as a webmaster (since 2002), in the web development industry (since 2005), as an SEO specialist (since 2008), and as a dedicated writer in the internet technologies field (since 2009) have given him a rounded perspective on the workings of the web.

Rob hard-codes in notepad, his favorite TV show is Firefly, and he loves writing fiction.

Check out his fiction on Amazon, his content writing portfolio, and his SEO Consulting site, or follow him on Twitter @RobDYoungWrites or as Rob D Young on Google+.