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There are lots of reports around the web right now that Google is redirecting all traffic to the HTTPs (secure) version of its site. 

Search Engine Land explains that this may be an attempt to block NSA spying, or perhaps to increase ad sales. Who knows?

What does seem certain is that the amount of organic traffic which is encrypted has leapt up over the past month, and more so over the last day or so. 

To illustrate the point, here's our data from August, showing (not provided) as a percentage of all Google organic traffic:

And the same chart for September, so far: 

And for today: 

Other sites are reporting similar patterns. The Mirror's Malcolm Coles reports that of The Mirror's desktop traffic from search, 82.5% is encrypted today.

Koozai's Mike Essex reports that his site's (not provided) traffic is 93% of organic, while the (not provided) count, which tracks a number of sites, shows a big spike over the past couple of weeks, though this doesn't include today's data: 

Why does this matter? 

For us, we've kind of given up on making sense of organic keywords, simply because we can see so few of them. 

Here are our top organic Google searches for September. As you can see, the numbers are fairly insignificant. All it tells us is that we're doing well for 'Bill Gates quotes' thanks to a seven year old article

Even this workaround for calculating branded search traffic will soon become very difficult, as we have little or no organic data to base it on. 

Of course, search data isn't encrypted for advertisers using Google search ads, so if you're worried about the NSA spying on you, don't go clicking on those ads... 

Check your (not provided) traffic

These handy custom Google Analytics links from Dan Barker will help you to quickly check the state of your (not provided) traffic. 

  • This dashboard shows Not Provided as a percentage of Google Organic traffic in pie chart form, as used above. Click here to add to your GA profile.
  • This custom report shows the same, with keyword data, as in the screenshot above. Click here to add to your profile. 

You can read some search expert's views on this keyword data apocalypse here...

Are you seeing a jump in encrypted organic search data on your site? Let us know in the comments... 

Graham Charlton

Published 23 September, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (16)

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Magnus Nilsson

The best/only way now to get derailed organic keyword data is to use the recently launched organic & paid report in adwords. Guess this report was launched with the https changes in mind.

about 3 years ago

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Sam Thom, Video Journalist at Summit

Our search specialists working on retail client accounts have been noticing similar trends over the past 18 months - a large part of this 'hidden' search comes through searches made while logged in to a Google account. For example, in natural search, they found hidden data (through encryption, anonymous browsing etc) grew from 1-2% to 25-35%. See our video: http://youtu.be/fYsmWrDhzGw

about 3 years ago

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Jef

I see the same on all of my sites I work with

about 3 years ago

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Ben Acheson

The solution to Google's Not Provided scam:

Big brands should #BoycottAdwords

https://twitter.com/BenAcheson/status/382432178224652288

about 3 years ago

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Nathalie Allard

Hi Magnus,

Can you tell us more about this organic & paid report in Adwords. I've just looked at our Adwords account and I'm not sure where to look. Do you have to pay for these reports?

Organic keyword data is invaluable to us.

about 3 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

about 3 years ago

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Magnus Nilsson

Hi Nathalie

You'll find it under "dimensions" and then chose "paid & organic". You'll have to connect your AW account with Web Master Tools

about 3 years ago

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Jack Jarvis, Owner at The Website Review Company

For established sites and those using Adwords this is not the end of the world. You know what previous traffic a keyword has delivered in organic and if your ranking remains similar then you can assume your traffic remains the same. Adwords will also highlight any fluctuations in demand based on impressions and clicks.

Those that will be most affected will be new sites. They do not have the historical data to know how keywords perform and unless the run adwords campaigns will never know.

For these companies, indepth keyword traffic analysis and a whole heap of industry knowledge and best guess will have to get you through.

about 3 years ago

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Glyn Powditch

When I met with Paul Muret in Jan 2012 he said it was a bug and called an engineer in to discuss it. It didn't seem like a big deal to him to 'fix' this issue with https and users being signed in. However, as mentioned already I've only seen this trend continue and then spike in the past few weeks.

about 3 years ago

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reseolve

build relationships on and off line that's what its all about

about 3 years ago

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Anna

Only one way out - all to pay for advertising AdWords, apparently because Google decided to make

about 3 years ago

Sarah Alder

Sarah Alder, Managing Director at Cranmore Digital Consulting Ltd

I fear this may be a very obvious question, but does this mean that there is no longer any point in tagging content with keywords as it is published? Or do I still need that for internal search, Bing etc?

almost 3 years ago

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John

Google is destroying my business. First it was Panda, then Penguin and now search word encryption. As a business to business site, our customers are not interested in 'social networks' - which is google's admitted new focus. In fact, I think most of them think Tweating is what birds do. Add to that the fact that their employers discourage the use of Facebook while they are at work, we get very, very, very few 'Likes'. And, since we sell durable goods, our product description change very little. So .. how can I write a 2,000 word treatise on key cabinets or plastic key tags as google demands.

To add insult to injury, google won;t let us be a 'trusted store' because our monthly sales volume is too low - thanks to them.

Once people find us, we get a lot of return traffic (almost 20%) - so I don't think consumers consider us 'fly by night'.

Our organic search traffic has been cut in half since September 2012. If I could find a lawyer with the courage to sue Google, I would.

almost 3 years ago

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Jack Jarvis, Owner at The Website Review Company

@John - This is the wrong attitude and tack to get back where you want.

Nobody can blame Google, it forces nobody to use it, unfortunately everyone does so most are dependant on it.

You don't need to be a trendy product to gain social interaction and just focusing on this element is not the way forward.

There are a number of ways to drive traffic and increase your rankings, you just need to think outside of the box.

almost 3 years ago

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John

Oh .. and by the way... google webmaster has stopped collecting data for my site as of 9/23/2013. Any idea why?

almost 3 years ago

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seo services

i did not find organic & paid report in Adwords. some one guide me.

almost 3 years ago

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