Referral Data Returns to iOS6 Traffic

In Analytics, The Digital Marketing Blog by Sam HarriesLeave a Comment


It is almost a year now since the original release of iOS6 in September of last year, which introduced problems for tracking visits from iOS6 traffic. I wrote about this issue a few months ago and some methods of helping to assist in attributing the data to something in an attempt to reclaim the data.

The core of the issue is that iOS6 Google search traffic does not properly attribute as organic search traffic, it instead comes as direct traffic even when coming via a Google search result page to a page on your website. This is obviously causing webmasters to lose a large amount of their search traffic data for mobiles. Especially with mobile traffic increasing more and more over the years, there has never been a more important time to optimise for mobiles.

The technical reason for this not working properly is that iOS6’s Safari did not support the “meta referrer” tag, which appears to now have been resolved

graph ios6 traffic 2


We noticed a sharp increase in organic mobile traffic at the tail end of July, without a corresponding increase in total mobile traffic, which sparked an investigation.

Unfortunately this traffic that is now being properly attributed to organic is only being listed as “not provided”. Not provided is what Google lists as a keyword to users  using secure search such as logged in users – with the idea that, if the user is using the secure search, then they’d rather than webmasters do not want to have access to their keyword data.

graph not provided has recently seen a spike in traffic as well, currently reporting 45% of total traffic being listed as “not provided”, this would fall in line with the iOS6 data being informed correctly.

iOS7 which has yet to have an official release date set, has already solved the referral data problem, and the question was whether or not they would implement that for the older and current version of the operating system, and it appears that the question was answered.

This will help provide much more accurate data, which will serve to enable webmasters to allow them to make more informed decisions regarding the marketing of their site and their mobile audience, the only real complaint is it took a year for it to happen…better late than never.

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