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Apple iOS7 Update Returns Search Referrer in Google Analytics

Apple iOS7 Update Returns Search Referrer in Google Analytics

The latest version of the iPad/iPhone mobile operating system, Apple iOS7, is now available; but smart phone users aren’t the only ones who benefit from the change.

As the company had previously confirmed, this new mobile browser will return search referrer data rather than reporting search traffic as direct visits in Google Analytics. This is fantastic news for the SEO industry.

Many have been hurt by a dip in non-paid search traffic which arrived alongside a near identical increase in direct traffic. The problem was the proliferation of mobile devices and the inability of GA to track web usage and traffic from a number of browsers.

Fortunately, iOS7 will allow webmasters and DM professionals to view non paid traffic from mobile in analytics; creating a more accurate picture of site activity and giving credit where credit is due.

But in truth, we have been seeing a steady increase in search referrer data for weeks now, iOS7 is just the icing on the cake. Whether this was skewed by early testers of the new operating system or whether Apple’s later versions of iOS6 started to play ball is unclear.

Take a look at some search traffic patterns that we’ve identified in Analytics.

1

Here, search traffic and direct head in opposite directions from the beginning of August, weeks prior to the launch of iOS7.

2

Again, in this example, the two head in opposite directions, though direct traffic falls more steeply; and has since fallen again over recent weeks.

3

Finally, here we see that direct hasn’t fallen greatly for this site, but search traffic is recovering from its lowest ebb earlier in the summer.

Online marketers have to welcome the arrival of iOS7, and any other steps that can be taken to allow for more accurate SEO analysis and reportage. Overall, the outlook is a positive one. Whilst it does mean the dreaded ‘not provided’ keyword data has jumped up in line with this change (we can’t quite have it all our way), it will change the way site owners & digital marketing agencies like ourselves interpret trends and performance across websites.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the uptake of iOS7, and any quirks or issues that might arise for the marketing community. Stay tuned for more info.

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