It’s officially August. It’s hot outside, you are getting ready to send the kids back to school, and since it’s the beginning of the month, you’re probably doing your July reports. If you are analyzing the Organic Search performance of your site, there is going to be a problem that can most likely be chalked up to the recent Bing update. This is the biggest update we’ve seen since Bing Enhanced Sitelinks.
So what happened?
With the new Bing update, they have changed the URL structure of their search engine results page. To take one step further back, Google Analytics can capture referral information when the page loads. It can then parse parts of the URL to populate your reports. So Bing.com was the referral, the query parameter was the keyword, and the combination of the two was “organic” search. This structure has changed, and since the way GA parses the data didn’t change with it, Bing.com simply became a referral instead of details from an organic search. Your Bing referral reports probably look like the graph above.
So how does the Bing update impact your data?
Your organic search channel is going to be underreporting. Instead of Bing being included for three weeks, it’s now in a separate bucket. We’ve confirmed this impacts both Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics (Site Catalyst). You will also lose data on which keywords were “Bing’d”.
So what should you do?
When you are pulling reports, be sure to add data from Bing referrals to your organic channel data. You can easily get a session count, but engagement gets trickier. If Bing is significant enough to skew your data in a major way, there is something you can do to salvage your July analysis.
You can segment out traffic. For Google Analytics users, we’ve created an Advanced Segment (install it by clicking here) to show you only organic and Bing referral traffic. You can use this segment to stitch these two pieces of data together instead of just the organic search channel. But, remember, this only shows you a piece of data.
Let’s look at some examples:
This view shows data from the Organic + Bing Referrals Advanced Segment. We show 281,910 sessions in July that are Organic Search + Bing Referrals.
When viewing organic channel without a segment, we see 273,902 sessions in July that are solely organic search.
Reports are off by about 3%. It’s not huge, but it’s enough to affect decisions you might make. For sites that have a larger Bing presence, the impact could be even bigger. Also, remember that Bing referrals don’t have “keywords” in the Keywords report anymore.
Trending-wise, there’s not much difference. But when we look at the metrics and calculations, we can definitely see variations. Personally, I anticipate Google having a fix and reprocessing July data, but won’t know for sure until we check reports and data is different.
Remember that your reports and Bing’s update will affect every site differently.