‘Not Provided’: Coping with Privacy in Keyword Data

Rob Henry Director, Online Presence

Posted on January 11th 2013

‘Not Provided’: Coping with Privacy in Keyword Data

If your analytics reports are becoming filled with the words ‘Not Provided’, it’s likely that your ability to track your own traffic has fallen foul of Google’s privacy efforts.

Announced in October 2011, Google’s decision to move to secure search as standard for logged-in users (look for the ‘https’ prefix on Google Search URLs) means no keyword data can be collected for the queries they conduct.

Google Analytics team member Amy Chang said on the Google Analytics blog at the time that “only a minority” of search queries would be affected.

But recent figures from digital marketing software developer Optify showed that some sites are being affected quite significantly – including an average 40% of all B2B queries.

Over the past year, 171% more queries are showing up as ‘Not Provided’ in analytics reports, and it’s a trend that’s likely to continue.

The options to overcome this are fairly limited – the change is part of Google Search, rather than in the way Analytics collects data, so switching to a different platform would not restore the ‘missing’ keywords.

You can, of course, simply use the data that is collected from signed-out Google users, as there is no inherent reason why they might not be representative of your customer base as a whole.

Alternatively, consider analysing data from other search engines – neither Bing nor Yahoo! use secure pages for signed-in users as standard – and from any on-site search function you might have, to help fill in the gaps in your Google queries data.


Rob Henry

Director, Online Presence

Director at Online Presence. Marketing agency based in Manchester.

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Pete Prestipino
Posted on January 22nd 2013 at 4:58PM

Google is now encrypting searches in Chrome Omnibox which will drive another huge increase in “keyword not provided” data. #heartbreaking!