When Google first announced that they would no longer always provide keywords resulting in a natural search visit the SEO community panicked. Eventually Matt Cutts, head of Google search’s webspam efforts, said that this would only be a small amount, people started to calm down, but no one knew how much a “small amount” was.
Since then I have been closely monitoring the data for a few websites to see what Mr. Cutts meant by “small amount.” The first complete week after this was rolled out (the week starting October 23rd, 2011) seemed to confirm this claim with my clients- with the smallest percentage of “(not provided)” keywords being 0.6% of the total visits from Google natural search and the most being 3.7% of Google natural search visitors.
When it came to the second week after the roll-out (week of October 30th, 2011) it was clear that Google was gradually trickling this change throughout its users- with percentages of not provided keywords ranging from 4.0% to 21.6% of visits from Google natural search. Since the second week, these hi/lo percentages have continued to rise but have remained consistent over the last couple of weeks. This is leading me to conclude that the percentage of provided keywords from Google natural search is leveling-off, as you can see in the chart below:
Below is the largest (MAX), average (AVG) and smallest (MIN) percentages of not provided keywords from Google natural search visits over the last few weeks:
|Oct 23rd||Oct 30th||Nov 6th||Nov 13th||Nov 20th||Nov 27th||Dec 4th||Dec 11th|
Important facts about this data:
- The percentages mentioned above reflect a percentage of Google natural search visits- not a percentage of all natural search visits or a percentage of all visits to the website.
- This is an average percentage of about 8 different websites, ranging in size from approximately 500 visits per week to 70,000 visits per week.
- Most of these sites generate a majority of the visits from the United States (the first place Google is rolling-out this change) but two of these sites have a majority of visits from outside of the US). This means these percentages might grow as this change becomes more international.
- These sites reflect a wide diversity of industries; half of these sites are business-to-business oriented and the other half are business-to-consumer oriented.
- While the latest week of this data (the week starting December 18th, 2011) shows that on average 23% of the keywords were “not provided”, these websites ranged from 14.2% to 33.0% of the keywords that were not provided.
Are you seeing similar data in your website analytics? Do you think this is leveling-off or going to get larger?