(not provided) keywords in Google Analytics

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Not Provided

Since Google started making its search encrypted by default, a large percentage of search terms have started showing up in Google Analytics as “Not Provided”. Google originally predicted that the change would impact 10% or less of searches:

Google software engineer Matt Cutts, who’s been involved with the privacy changes, wouldn’t give an exact figure but told me he estimated even at full roll-out, this would still be in the single-digit percentages of all Google searchers on Google.com.

Right now most analytics users see that above 10% of searches have the keyword “not provided”.

Why is (Not Provided)  Bad?

This is bad all round for three reasons. One, Google Adwords advertisers still get this data, so it is just Analytics users. This means it is not really a privacy issue. Second, virtually any study into useability or serving relevant content relies on this data, so that flies completely in the face of anything Google has ever said about providing users with relevant content. 

The biggest problem with this is it completely blinds SEO and Web Content developers. It means you cant react to changing trends on your website. Most painfully for us is that it removes the ability to analyse long tail keywords. The long tail is where all the best data is in terms of specific things that your clients are looking for.

So What Can We Do With (Not Provided)?

First you can see which landing page the users are falling to, this will give you an idea of what people have searched for in the first place. Second, you can now see queries and clicks in the search engine optimisation section of analytics, although this is not really all that complete. Based on these two things alone we think that the (not provided) traffic actually is very similar to all other traffic.

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