If you look through your Google Analytics you’re more than likely to come across a keyword in Analytics that’s listed as “Not Provided”. I noticed this last week but brushed it off (partially because I didn’t think it was something new) until I noticed it occurring more and more often. I did a search for “Google Analytics Keyword Not Provided” and found a decent amount of information and articles regarding the issue. I do call it an issue because, to me, it changes a lot with the handiness of Analytics as an SEO tool.
Why Does my Analytics Show a Keyword as “Not Provided”?
One would expect Google to provide all statistics since they’re collecting so much of our data no the internet, however they introduced this “not provided” change for security reasons. Google announced in October that they are making search more secure by redirecting you to a secure search URL,with an SSL. This all ties into the problem you’re seeing with the “not provided” keyword.
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. Over the next few weeks, many of you will find yourselves redirected to https://www.google.com (note the extra “s”) when you’re signed in to your Google Account. This change encrypts your search queries and Google’s results page. This is especially important when you’re using an unsecured Internet connection, such as a WiFi hotspot in an Internet cafe. You can also navigate to https://www.google.com directly if you’re signed out or if you don’t have a Google Account.
What does this mean for sites that receive clicks from Google search results? When you search from https://www.google.com, websites you visit from our organic search listings will still know that you came from Google, but won’t receive information about each individual query. They can also receive an aggregated list of the top 1,000 search queries that drove traffic to their site for each of the past 30 days through Google Webmaster Tools. This information helps webmasters keep more accurate statistics about their user traffic. If you choose to click on an ad appearing on our search results page, your browser will continue to send the relevant query over the network to enable advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and to improve the ads and offers they present to you.
How do you See “Not Provided” Keywords?
Unfortunately, as mentioned in Google’s announcement, you’ll receive information that Google referred user’s to your site when they are using a secure connection, however you will not see individual information about the queries. So when user’s are logged into Google using SSL, there’s basically no way of telling what keyword they came in from. Good news for security, bad news for Search Engine Optimizer’s!
Even websites like Etsy are trying to explain to their shop owner’s that there is a change with Google:
Why is “Not Provided” showing up as a keyword in Shop Stats?
When a visitor is signed in to Google and clicks a search result link, Google no longer passes keyword info to the destination website. You can learn more about the specific changes here: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2011/10/making-search-more-secure-accessing.html
As a result, all analytics tools, including Google Analytics, can no longer track the keyword someone used to find a website if the person was signed in to Google. We represent these people in Shop Stats the same way Google Analytics does: we attribute the view to a Google search, but the keyword is “Not Provided”.
If you have concerns about these changes, you should contact Google.
Well then, Etsy doesn’t really help their users out too much after that statement. Who is actually going to contact Google about the change? Good luck getting an answer from someone. Your best bet is to wait for another announcement!