Safari Change Improves Organic Search Traffic

Back in September 2012, Safari shifted to Google Secure Search in iOS 6.  However as a result of this change web users reaching websites using Google in Safari were actually attributed as “Direct” traffic rather than “Search” traffic.

As of 30th July 2013 it appears that Safari 6.0 has amended the secure search model and traffic from Google in Safari is no longer seen as “Direct” but now as “not provided” search traffic, as expected.

The graph below shows the increase in secure search traffic from Apple iPhones, a major source of Safari traffic, as of 30th July.

iOS secure search traffic returns

If we then look at “Direct” traffic for the same period we can see a correlation with a drop in traffic.

direct traffic drops as result of Safari 6.0 changes

Although this keyword data is “not provided” at least it now gives a true representation of your organic search efforts.

When reporting comparing any organic traffic inclusive of this period please keep this change in mind.  Reprise Australia recommends making all your clients aware of this as in the instance above our client saw a 66% increase (week on week) in “not provided” traffic which resulted in a 45% increase in organic traffic (week on week).

With iOS 7 currently in beta it is expected that Safari will revert from the “not provided” model to once again passing full referral data although this may change as iOS 7 is released in full.

If you are interested in learning more about SEO or Analytics please contact our teams who will be happy to help.

Steven Christison

Posted by Steven Christison

When writing the story of your life . . . . don't let anyone else hold the pen.

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5 Responses to “Safari Change Improves Organic Search Traffic”

  1. Gene says:

    Thank you for posting. I see the exact same thing in our data at groupon. What I don’t know is how did apple implement this change? It appears very quick and then appears to level off. That’s not like a typical OS upgrade that keeps ramping for weeks even months later, although maybe it is too early to know that the SEO numbers won’t keep going up for months to come. I assume the only way apple can change safari behavior is to get you to do an iOS update, but I could be wrong.

    Interestingly, ios with safari version 7 seems to be growing rapidly in terms of traffic to our site, but that ramp up is coming about 8 days after this ramp in SEO.

  2. Steven Christison Steven Christison says:

    Thanks for your comment Gene and we hope you found the post useful. It has been suggested, though not confirmed, that the change in attribution may have been made at Google Analytics side and not iOS or browser side. This could possibly explain the vast, almost instantaneous, increase in traffic from Safari, as opposed to the typical steady upgrade increases that we are used to from OS upgrades.

    With iOS 7 now in beta we would expect to see traffic increasing from this source as more developers and fanboys upgrade to the beta from an earlier version. Due for full release in spring i would then expect this to increase at a more significant rate.

    In Australia we are yet to see a rapid increase in traffic from this source across our clients. Due to smaller population levels in Australia the number of “Early Adopters” is likely less significant than in the likes of the US and the UK.

    Over the coming weeks and months we will be rolling out more content surrounding analytics. If you are interested in finding out more please follow us on LinkedIn: Reprise Australia or Twitter: @RepriseAUS

  3. Gene says:

    I can confirm it is not just a change in Google Analytics. We run 2 analytics systems on every page (call us crazy), one of them is a home grown system. Both show the same thing. It’s might be that Google made a change to work around the iOS limitation. I’m not sure what that would be, but nor do I see how Apple pushed out a fix that quickly to so many people.

  4. y0z2a says:

    Could it be that like Chrome, Opera now has a pushed update rather than requiring manual intervention?

    I concur that it would be likely to roll over a few weeks rather than a few days – but still that is the only way that I could imagine such a significant change in such a short time that could align with the thinking.

  5. […] 17/09/2013 #2: Thanks to Reprise Media and their post discussing a similar impact earlier this year driven by changes to Safari. It looks as though this […]

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