Proof That Google's Secure Search Now Affects More Users

Did Google just take the next big step in rolling out secure search? It certainly looks that way.

Note: Skip to the bottom of the post for the 11/2 update.

Since our team went through the process last week to exclude all "(not provided)" traffic from SEER's Search profiles, the change was obvious this morning. Looking at individual sites, we quickly saw the trend of "(not provided)" traffic increasing. Upon further analysis, "(not provided)" traffic increased for every site, but by varying degrees.

How big was this increase? The graphs below look at the impact of the change on 37 sites. Comparing yesterday (10/31) to the previous Monday, 27 of the sites had over 100% increase in "(not provided)" traffic. We looked at the data in a second way, as well. Looking at yesterday's visits compared to the average daily traffic driven by "(not provided)" last week, 30 of the sites had an increase over 100%.

The full breakdown across 37 sites is as follows:

The biggest percent increase observed was actually our own site. had a 625% increase in "(not provided)" traffic, comparing 10/31 to last Monday. We also saw one site that received 2300 "(not provided)" visits in all of last week, but 1100 yesterday alone.

Key Takeaway - Google is rolling out the new secure search to more users, and we all need to be prepared for the outcome. 

For anyone who wants to run through the same process for your sites, here's the methodology that was used across over 75 initial sites:

  1. Gathered total "(not provided)" traffic from Monday through Friday last week
      • Used Monday through Friday so lower weekend traffic wouldn't affect the data
  2. Pulled the "(not provided)" traffic from last Monday and yesterday
  3. Calculated average daily "(not provided)" traffic
      • Any sites that did not exceed an average of five "(not provided)" visits per day in this time period were omitted from the remainder of the analysis.
      • Although there were very interesting observations to be found in this data, the initial numbers were too low to provide a significant enough value, and we already had strong enough data from the remaining sites to complete the analysis.
      • The remaining 37 sites span a wide variety of industries.
  4. Compared yesterday's (10/31) traffic to last Monday (10/24) and compared yesterday's traffic to the average daily "(not provided)" visits last week
      • Calculated and graphed percent change for each

11/2 Update

This update was partially sparked by AJ Kohn and from wanting to share additional metrics to add context, especially with what we saw this morning.

Yesterday's post jumped the gun. The big spike we observed was either the result of Google rolling out the changes midday Monday or releasing more users to secure search yesterday. Looking at yesterday's data, saying the "(not provided)" numbers jumped is an understatement. Since we've already seen evidence that this is rolling out, let's evaluate the actual impact rather than looking at data the same way we did yesterday.

The following chart breaks down the same 37 sites listed above, looking at the percent of yesterday's Google organic traffic that came in with "(not provided)" in lieu of the actual keywords:

Out of the 37 sites, 16 had over 10% of the Google organic traffic come from "(not provided)" and one of the sites was at 21.05%.  Far more than the single digit impact that was estimated early on.

Did you see a big increase in "(not provided)" traffic yesterday, as well? Share your thoughts in the comments below or via Twitter - @rachaelgerson.

Many thanks to @BrettASnyder for his help both pulling the data and going through ideas for this post, and for convincing me this should be a short blog post, not a quick Tweet. 

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