Most Organic Search Data is Now Hidden
Over the past couple years since its launch, Google's keyword (not provided) has received quite a bit of exposure, with people discussing all sorts of tips on estimating its impact & finding alternate sources of data (like competitive research tools & webmaster tools).
What hasn't received anywhere near enough exposure (and should be discussed daily) is that the sole purpose of the change was anti-competitive abuse from the market monopoly in search.
The site which provided a count for (not provided) recently displayed over 40% of queries as (not provided), but that percentage didn't include the large percent of mobile search users that were showing no referrals at all & were showing up as direct website visitors. On July 30, Google started showing referrals for many of those mobile searchers, using keyword (not provided).
According to research by RKG, mobile click prices are nearly 60% of desktop click prices, while mobile search click values are only 22% of desktop click prices. Until Google launched enhanced AdWords campaigns they understated the size of mobile search by showing many mobile searchers as direct visitors. But now that AdWords advertisers were opted into mobile ads (and have to go through some tricky hoops to figure out how to disable it), Google has every incentive to promote what a big growth channel mobile search is for their business.
Looking at the analytics data for some non-SEO websites over the past 4 days I get Google referring an average of 86% of the 26,233 search visitors, with 13,413 being displayed as keyword (not provided).
Hiding The Value of SEO
Google is not only hiding half of their own keyword referral data, but they are hiding so much more than half that even when you mix in Bing and Yahoo! you still get over 50% of the total hidden.
Google's 86% of the 26,233 searches is 22,560 searches.
Keyword (not provided) being shown for 13,413 is 59% of 22,560. That means Google is hiding at least 59% of the keyword data for organic search. While they are passing a significant share of mobile search referrers, there is still a decent chunk that is not accounted for in the change this past week.
Not passing keywords is just another way for Google to increase the perceived risk & friction of SEO, while making SEO seem less necessary, which has been part of "the plan" for years now.
Buy AdWords ads and the data gets sent. Rank organically and most the data is hidden.
When one digs into keyword referral data & ad blocking, there is a bad odor emitting from the GooglePlex.
Subsidizing Scammers Ripping People Off
A number of the low end "solutions" providers scamming small businesses looking for SEO are taking advantage of the opportunity that keyword (not provided) offers them. A buddy of mine took over SEO for a site that had showed absolutely zero sales growth after a year of 15% monthly increase in search traffic. Looking at the on-site changes, the prior "optimizers" did nothing over the time period. Looking at the backlinks, nothing there either.
So what happened?
Well, when keyword data isn't shown, it is pretty easy for someone to run a clickbot to show keyword (not provided) Google visitors & claim that they were "doing SEO."
And searchers looking for SEO will see those same scammers selling bogus solutions in AdWords. Since they are selling a non-product / non-service, their margins are pretty high. Endorsed by Google as the best, they must be good.
Google does prefer some types of SEO over others, but their preference isn’t cast along the black/white divide you imagine. It has nothing to do with spam or the integrity of their search results. Google simply prefers ineffective SEO over SEO that works. No question about it. They abhor any strategies that allow guys like you and me to walk into a business and offer a significantly better ROI than AdWords.
This is no different than the YouTube videos "recommended for you" that teach you how to make money on AdWords by promoting Clickbank products which are likely to get your account flagged and banned. Ooops.
Anti-competitive Funding Blocking Competing Ad Networks
sponsoring Adblock is changing the market conditions. Adblock can use the money provided by Google to make sure any non-Google ad is blocked more efficiently. They can also advertise their addon better, provide better support, etc. Google sponsoring Adblock directly affects Adblock's ability to block the adverts of other companies around the world. - RyanZAG
Turn AdBlock Plus on & search for credit cards on Google and get ads.
Do that same search over at Bing & get no ads.
How does a smaller search engine or a smaller ad network compete with Google on buying awareness, building a network AND paying the other kickback expenses Google forces into the marketplace?
Which is part of the reason a monopoly in search can be used to control the rest of the online ecosystem.
Buying Browser Marketshare
Already the #1 web browser, Google Chrome buys marketshare with shady one-click bundling in software security installs.
If you do that stuff in organic search or AdWords, you might be called a spammer employing deceptive business practices.
When Google does it, it's "good for the user."
Vampire Sucking The Lifeblood Out of SEO
Google tells Chrome users "not signed in to Chrome (You're missing out - sign in)." Login to Chrome & searchers don't pass referral information. Google also promotes Firefox blocking the passage of keyword referral data in search, but when it comes to their own cookies being at risk, that is unacceptable: "Google is pulling out all the stops in its campaign to drive Chrome installs, which is understandable given Microsoft and Mozilla's stance on third-party cookies, the lifeblood of Google's display-ad business."
What do we call an entity that considers something "its lifeblood" while sucking it out of others?
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