Have you been noticing “Not Provided” when reviewing keywords in your Google Analytics? This is a change Google started about five months ago. “Not Provided” represents any keywords used by searchers who found your website in response to a search query while logged into their Google account. This is referred to as Google SSL Search. In a blog post announcing this new change, Google stated:
As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, we recognize the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results we deliver. As a result, we’re enhancing our default search experience for signed-in users.
So what does this mean for your analytics research? Well, while you won’t be able to find detailed information about what search terms Google signed in users used to find you in your Google Analytics, you can still find out what search terms people used – in general, without IP addresses – in Google Webmaster Tools. You can see the top 1,000 search queries that drove traffic to your site over the last 30 days. Note the 30 days. Where Google Analytics kept your information for an indeterminate time, you now need to really keep current with your keyword checking. And unfortunately, you won’t be able to see where those searchers came from or follow their visit on your site.
Not Provided in Google Analytics Will Likely Increase Even More Thanks to Firefox
According to a post by Search Engine Roundtable, Firefox is testing built in SSL for its Google searches and will most likely roll it out to all Firefox users. That is ALL Google searches, not just searches of those signed into Google accounts. The “Not Provided” percentage for our own website over the last month was 32%. We reviewed the analytics of some clients and found a range of 16% to 28% last month. One can only guestimate what those percentages will increase to once Firefox completely rolls out this new feature.
How Does “Not Provided” Affect Your Analytics Research?
Now, more than ever, it is important to not only regularly check your Google Analytics, but also your Webmaster Tools for the top search queries. Be vigilant. You never know what further changes are in store . . .