July 28, 2015 | Sarah Danks


Bing Starting to “Not Provide” Data…

As search marketers we’re still grumbling about Google’s decision to not allow anyone to see keyword data in Analytics. Even the mere mention of (not provided) is enough to set some of us — more than others — on edge. Every time Google makes a change and takes information away from us we get cranky.

Well, recently the webmaster world has started seeing another strange anomaly in Google Analytics.

Namely, Bing traffic is being divided into two segments within the Acquisition > Source/Medium channel:

  • Bing / organic
  • Bing / referral

Since Bing is a search engine, one would expect all traffic to a website coming from bing.com to funnel directly into Bing / organic, but as of mid-July that’s not the case:

bing-traffic-both-referral-and-organic

Not only that, but the increase of Bing / referral has dramatically risen in even the past month:

bing-referral-vs-organic-traffic

Granted, this is only one of our clients, but a 1,225% increase in Bing / referral from the month before is quite the drastic change. So what gives — why’s this happening?

…Just Like His Big Brother, Google.

Well, remember when Bing said they’re going to encrypted search? Turns out they’ve started making the switch from http to https and that’s why we’re seeing the discrepancy in Analytics data.

Duane Forrester of Bing (and one of the keynotes at the 2015 MnSearch Summit!) said,

“With the move to encrypted search by default we will continue to pass along a referrer string so that marketers and webmasters will be able to identify traffic as coming from Bing.”

But…

…if that’s the case, why are we (still) seeing Bing’s traffic split between organic and referral? Is it just that Bing hasn’t fully made the switch to https, so we’re seeing traffic different servers — i.e., some Bing traffic is coming from the http version; some from https?

We personally think Bing’s just following in the footsteps of its mentor (Google) and moving to a (not provided) environment. Migrating to encrypted search is just one more step in mimicking the big search engine’s methodology of protecting users’ information.

See, Bing was the last search engine providing keyword data — and now they’re following suit in “not providing” info, all in the name of privacy.

Barry Schwartz over at Search Engine Land is asking the same questions about all this, and he pointed out:

“Google removes keyword data but they still pass that the traffic came from search. Bing, on the other hand, seems to be removing the fact that the traffic came from organic search, in addition to removing keyword data.”

Hopefully this “unintended consequence” of Bing’s transfer from http to https will iron out over time; it’s already hard enough to explain to our clients why Google — and now Bing — doesn’t want to show keyword data!

As Julie Kosbab points out, “by definition, http and https are different server ports.” Which means, as long as Bing is still making the switch to https, we’re going to see this dichotomy in Bing traffic.

How about you? What’re you seeing in your Analytics reports with Bing / organic and Bing / referral data?

 

 


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