Back in October 2011, Google made the switch for SSL search for users signed into Google accounts which meant the loss of keyword data from organic search. The visitors would be not classified as (not provided) within platforms such as Google Analytics. I have been watching how the NP traffic has been steadily growing across a number of websites but have also been monitoring how those types of visitors interact when they visit the website.
To get a decent sample size of Google Analytics data I looked at a period of time from the 1st November until 28th January with 2.4 million organic visitors. The first big observation is that that while there is a strong preference for tech focused sites to attract more (not provided) traffic it is not always industry specific.
My research still shows a bigger influence on how many (not provided) visitors you will see in your web analytics reports still seems directly related to the total number of US visitors your site attracts. So if you currently have a fairly low percentage of your audience from the USA, (not provided) will currently be less of an issue for your business. I can see the problem would be if your website depends on organic traffic from the USA you will continue to see the issue of (not provided) grow during 2012 based on early adoption statistics of Google+.
With my sample size it averages out to be around 5.02% of total visitors during that period are classed as (not provided) which is slightly lower than I expected.
Can you monetise (not provided)?
The big issue I see based on my query data related to (not provided) is that the Google AdSense platform doesn’t seem to be able to monetise this traffic that well. The initial issue is that even though (not provided) brings in 5.02% of site visitors, it only accounts for 3.16% of AdSense revenue. The other issue is that the average revenue per organic visitor is $0.0051 but only $0.0031 for (not provided), so you are making 40% less per organic visitor if your site relies on platforms such as AdSense for your primary revenue stream.
What does this mean for you? You are losing around $0.40 out of every possible dollar of revenue if the visitor is from the (not provided) audience.
Does (not provided) convert?
If you are running a lead generation website or an e-commerce store the (not provided) traffic looks to be a far bigger issue as the data set shows (not provided) performs even worse for conversions than other organic traffic. The data shows an overall organic traffic conversion rate of 0.97% compared to (not provided) of 0.67%. My analysis showed the other issue is that even though (not provided) accounts for 5.02% of traffic it only accounts for 4% of organic conversions.
What does this mean for you? You are losing around 31% of your potential leads/conversions if the visitor is from the (not provided) audience.
What can you do?
You should start to examine what are other options for monetising (not provided) traffic such as trialling different ad networks, offers for email signups and even in-house advertising. It’s important that you start to look at your web analytics data to see of the (not provided) visitors never convert or engage with your onsite advertising.