Are You Baffled by Keywords (Not Provided) Data in Google Analytics?

Are you baffled why you are not seeing all of your keywords in Google Analytics? More and more of us are now seeing a larger proportion of our keywords in Analytics showing as “not provided.” 

Why? Well, since October 2011, Google has been encrypting users searches so that Analytics cannot record the words used to find websites. It all started when Google decided if you were going to search whilst signed in to a Google service,

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(YouTube or Gmail for example) Google would automatically take you to a secure version of the search engine, effectively switching you to the HTTPS version of the search. Hey presto, your search data was then encrypted, Google could hold its hands up (does Google even HAVE hands?) and say that users privacy was being taken care of.

Since late 2011, the percentage of keywords “not provided” has slowly risen, with some sites now reporting upto 80% of the keywords not identified. Google has now implemented a policy of taking everyone who uses its search facility to the HTTPS version of the service. Effectively, stopping site owners see and measure a critical metric on traffic from keywords. So, how long will it be before your site won’t record any keyword data via Google? We are on an upwards curve and some estimations are that most sites will have all their keyword data recorded as “not provided” as early as September 2014.

As SEO engineers, we need to prepare alternative ways to find out how traffic arrives at our customers websites and explore different tools for analysis. You will notice that Google only encrypts natural search terms, search terms from Google Ads are still identified in Google Analytics. A clever ruse to drive customers to Pay per Click or Google looking after our privacy? Hmmm, you decide. We would love to hear from you on this topic #sharpmonkeys.

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