Is Google s “Not Provided” causing BuzzFeed to report Reduced Search Traffic?

Goggle seems to have imposed certain restrictions on search results that have made it appear as if their search traffic to news websites has reduced. Reports by BuzzFeed seem to indicate that Google has lost a lot of traffic ever since September-2012.BuzzFeed based its reports after studying traffic for 200 publishers on its own network. Their network has websites including The Huffington Post and Rolling Stone. Their reports actually show that Facebook searches have exceeded Google search since January-2013 and is increasing with each consecutive month while Google is declining continuously during the same time period.

It does seem that social has indeed overtaken search since the beginning of this year. However, there could be several reasons for such a decline. One possible reason dates back to October 2011 when Google began to withhold search terms used by people on Google. However, this data was withheld only from publishers while being provided to advertisers.

However, Google got ambushed by Apple even while it was arguing that it took such steps to protect privacy. Apple’s iOS6 took full advantage of Google’s privacy clause when it released iO6 in September-2012. Google did not show any referral even for traffic through mobile Safari. Before September of 2012, searches made through mobile Safari would show up as Google traffic. However, after that month, such searches showed up as direct visits.

Even though there could be a few other reasons for results shown by BuzzFeed, the fact that the decline of Google search begins from September-2012 could be an indication. Even though Google managed a small rise in November-2012 it has since then gone into a downward freefall.

Google seems to have heaped this problem on itself even though it could have resolved the issue. Whether the issue is confined to the sites taken into study by BuzzFeed or issues related to Google penalty is still not clear, but Google’s privacy clauses does seem to be affecting the search result figures of the company in an adverse manner.

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