Itâ€™s been of some concern that mobile Safari in iOS 6 turns the traffic from Google into direct traffic. That is, if you visit a page using Google through mobile safari search box in iOS 6, it will appear to the publishers that you are visiting the site directly by typing the URL. Mobile Safari thus leads to a situation known as Dark Google, in which visits from Google are no longer tied up to a particular search term. As the source of the traffic is not attributed correctly, the search traffic to that site will go down slowly. The real reason behind this weird behavior has finally been discovered, that mobile Safari does not support Meta tag referrer. Google Secure Search is regarded as the reason behind this puzzle. Let us see why it was so.
Normally, when someone moves from one page to another, the browser will send referrer information, which act as a caller ID for the web. As it contains the entire search information, the publishers can determine whether that page is visited from a search engine or not. In October 2011, when Google switched on Google SSL Search, it stopped passing search terms along with referrer information unless someone clicks on advertisements. We can thus say, as built-in search box sent searches through Google SSL Search, mobile Safari does not allow publishers to know what you searched for.
However, mobile Safari not only strips the search terms, but also doesnâ€™t send the referral information at all. To be more specific, publishers canâ€™t get the search information from even paid listings as opposed to Google SSL Search. Hence, Google Secure Search canâ€™t be considered as the exact reason for direct traffic. Here comes the relevance of Meta referrer tag.
In March 2012, Google introduced some modifications in handling reporting referrers. Instead of passing referrer information to browsers through Web server, Google started using Meta referrer tag, so that the referrer data will be embedded on the page itself. The page will also report the referrer data. As mobile Safari does not support Meta referrer tag, referrer data will be found nowhere and hence not reported to the publishers.
It is obvious that a question will still remain in your mind regarding how to resolve this â€˜direct trafficâ€™ problem. Ostensibly, there are two solutions as suggested by the experts. First solution is Google could go back to using a standard server-based practice for passing referrer data. But, if someone gets out of Googleâ€™s secure search environment and visits an insecure site, all referrers will be stripped according to the standard referrer process. Second solution is that mobile Safari could support Meta referrer tag like Safari desktop version.