Not Provided and Google Analytics

You can create a Google account and log into Analytics to find out the keywords which are driving the highest volume of traffic to your website. This way, you can decide which keywords you want to continue using and which ones you should discard. However, it appears that Google has become reluctant to share the top keywords for your campaign. In some cases, the topmost keyword is not displayed and in its place, ‘(not provided)’ appears. So, why is this happening? Why is Analytics not providing the keyword/s that could potentially change your strategy?

“Secure” Google Searches

Keywords are withheld and (not provided) is displayed when a keyword has been searched ‘securely’. This means that the people who were directed to your website by performing a Google search for that particular keyword were signed into Google account. Over time, the number of people who use Google accounts has increased considerably. The main reason for this is that Google has increased its range of online services. In order to use Google+, Gmail, Maps, etc, one needs to sign up for a Google account.

Any searches you perform while signed in on your Google account will not be part of the data provided to Analytics users. It doesn’t matter whether you were signed in on a mobile device or a desktop computer. As long as you were logged in, your search activity is ‘safe’. So, it is quite possible that hundreds of thousands of searches are not accounted for. There are many people who forget to sign out and simply shut the browser. They don’t even bother clearing their browsing history, so they remain signed in without knowing it.

Not Provided

What’s the Reason?

It might seem strange that Google is denying potentially lucrative information to Analytics users. According to the official word from the company, they withhold the information because they want to protect the privacy of their users. However, there i

s no such restriction when it comes to AdWords. The clicks made on the ads posted by Google are recorded and you can see the data for them.

The Percentage of ‘Not Provided’ Results

Just one year ago, the percentage of ‘not provided’ was around 12%. During that period, it has increased to around 27%. This is the average figure, so some websites may have much higher numbers. Regardless, it is probable that the upward trend is going to continue, at least for the near future.

You can actually check out the number of (not provided) searches that drive traffic to your website. For this, sign in to Google Analytics and click on Traffic Sources. Then, click on the Sources tab followed by the Search tab. Under Search, you will see Organic, so click on it. Browse the right sidebar of the browser window where Analytics gives you different options for displaying the data. Click on the pie chart and then hover over the (not provided) area. You will be able to see the percentage.

So, just because Google Analytics is not showing you some keywords doesn’t mean that Google is trying to throw a spanner in your works. It is part of their service offering, so you can’t do much about it.