(Not Provided) Keyword Data to Rise
On May 7th, the Mozilla Privacy Blog announced that Google Secure Search has become the default standard in the Aurora build of Firefox. Aurora is step 2 of 4 in the development cycle of the Firefox browser. This feature was announced weeks ago, but at the time was only in the Nightly development version of Firefox, a place where experimental changes are often tested and discarded. The move to the next development stage signals that Mozilla does intend to roll out this change in a future version of Firefox. You can read more about that, but the short version is, we can expect this to be the default search in the stable version of Firefox in 12-18 weeks
What does this mean for site owners and SEO's? It will almost certainly mean a dramatic spike in (not provided) keyword data as Firefox is one of the most popular browsers in the world, with 35-38% of usage share in the US.
Many site owners are already seeing 15 or 20% of the search referral data as the dreaded (not provided) "keyword". It is difficult to guess, but this number could be as high as 50-60% on some sites, when combining (not provided) data from logged in Google users as well as anyone using Firefox.
When the (not provided) referral data was introduced in October 2011 some site owners and SEO's suggested that Google might be motivated purely by profits because all PPC keyword data can still be accessed anyone using Google Adwords. With the news that Google is paying the Mozilla Foundation $300 million a year to be the default search engine in Firefox, some people are questioning the Mozilla Foundation's real motives with this move.
Feb. 14th, 2013 Update: Just as many analysts predicted, Google Chrome was not far behind in moving searches to SSL. iOS6 also jumped on the bandwagon now bringing the global averages for (not provided) keyword data to almost 30% of all organic traffic.