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Searching for Clues: When Your Data is (not provided)

(not provided): What does it mean?

Searching for Clues: When Your Data is (not provided)

Back in October 2011, Google announced that they would stop providing the keywords which logged-in users searched for in Google.

If a user is signed into their Google account, any search they perform will be done via Google secure search and will no longer pass the search term referrer data. However, Google will still pass this data on for any clicks on Google paid ads.

The reason behind this decision from Google to withhold search term referrer data stems down to better protection of the users privacy, although still passing the data if you pay for it has caused some controversy!

Growth of (not provided)

This update meant that we started to see (not provided) appearing in our Google analytics reports.   Google still records the visitors as being organic but puts all of these secure search keywords into a (not provided) bucket.  Unfortunately for webmasters there is no way to work around this, it is how it is.  Google however does still provide us with an aggregated list of the top 1,000 search queries that drove traffic to the site through webmaster tools, it’s not perfect, but it can be used a guide to top performing keywords.

Since secure search was implemented we have seen the number of (not provided) increase to around 10-15%.

 

 

The graph shows a surge in (not provided) in March, this is because Google implemented its privacy policy, which ties all Google accounts together. For example, users logged into YouTube on the 15th February will have had their search terms recorded, however those logged into YouTube a month later would have their searches recorded as (not provided).

KPI’s

Looking at the number of unique referring keywords had been a good indicator in the past of your sites performance on search engines, and was used as a KPI regularly.  As we see the number of (not provided) searches increasing month-on-month, the total number of unique referring keywords data becomes less relevant.

Personalised search

One positive measurement which has come out of Google (not provided) keyword search terms is that we now have a better understanding of how many users are using personalised search.  Although Google can show personalised results to non-logged in users, it is the logged in users who are impacted the most by personalised search. So, by working out the percentage of (not provided) users we can see how many users are having their search results personalised.

The future

We will continue to see the number of (not provided) searches increase at a steady rate. There have been rumours that Firefox are going to be implementing secure search as their default, if this happens expect to see this increase significantly (with Firefox currently holding about 21% share of the browser market in the UK).  If Firefox do go ahead with this update, will we see others follow….

 

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2 Comments
  • Arpita on May 25, 2012

    Hi Carla
    Thanks for the nice post.
    Knowing the online visitor’s point of view and their search methods is useful while choosing the right keywords.Google Suggest is a great way to find related word suggestions.

    Thanks again
    Regards

  • ketan raval on June 11, 2012

    Not Provided data will slowly revealed once.. G+ covers some more ground in social influence.. Personalized Results is a Google’s one way to deal with spam.. great article to read..

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