Not Provided causing analytics anguish

Google’s decision to hide search terms in analytical reports for people who are ‘logged in’ is proving to be a pain for a lot of marketers. Marketers have come to rely on keyword analysis to help create compelling content for their sites so that they can drive customers to their business… but as Google is starting to create arbitrary privacy rules they begin to make the marketer’s job a lot harder. MediaPost points to a recent study that shows that “Not Provided” is now 40% of traffic for most organic search marketing analytics reports – thus providing absolutely no data for marketers.

MediaPost says more about the privacy change here: “Last year, Google gave signed-in search engine users an option to encrypt their search queries using Secure Socket Layer. The process encrypts Google search queries, meaning that data about visits from organic search queries no longer provides information, such as referring keywords, on each individual query. Rather than the exact word, Google began passing publishers the term “not provided” as the referring keyword for visits from search engine queries and clicks.”

As you can see, OfficeDrop has almost 50% of our search traffic as “not provided.”

What a pain. I guess I wouldn’t be upset about this if Google didn’t still make the info available in Google Webmaster tools. Why allow it to be displayed to marketers/webmasters in one place but somehow not in another? Are you really protecting anyone’s privacy? I don’t get it.

Dealing with Not Provided as a search term

In order to see what your true traffic driving search terms are (and unhide that annoying “not provided” term) you need to be a webmaster of your site. If you aren’t the webmaster then this won’t really help you; ask the person in charge of your site to invite you to be a webmaster.

  1. Then go to Google’s Webmaster login here:
  2. Select the site that you want to research
  3. Select “traffic” on the left
  4. “search queries” should become an option below “traffic” – select that
  5. The last month’s search terms that drove traffic to your site will now be listed. You will probably want to sort them “clicks” to see the traffic that they are driving to your site; the default sort order is … well, I’m not sure.

These search terms are only kept in the webmaster tools location for a month or so, so you’ll need to download the results into a spreadsheet or something if you want to keep historical numbers! Again, it’s a pain.



Author: Healy Jones

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