What Does (not provided) mean in Google Analytics

Some of my clients have been asking me why their Google Analytics showing high visitor counts for the keyword (not provided).

I was typing out a rather long email response when I decided to turn it into a quick blog post so that other could benefit too.

Here is a quick screen shot of what’s happening. The site below has had 14, 153 visits from Google but we don’t know what the search keyword was that resulted in our site being found.

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Secure Searching

The thing all these google searches all have in common is that they were made using the secure version of the google search engine.

That is to say that if the user had looked in the browser bar they would have seen the https:// address rather than the http:// address.

For some time google has been redirecting users that were logged in to Google to the secure version of their search engine. This has meant that keyword data from google was not appearing in google analytics when users were logged in but it was still showing up for searches that were not logged in.

But Why Is The Number Increasing?

What’s changed is that Google is now redirecting all users to the secure version so that keyword data is basically disappearing from Google Analytics.

Google views this a privacy issue. They feel that they should not be revealing the keywords that their users are using to find websites to the website owners.

Interestly they don’t hold the same opinion on privacy when it comes to paid traffic as they are continuing to provide keyword data to PPC advertisers but that’s another story.

So What Can Be Done About It

Unfortunately not much can be done. Google does provide some information through the webmaster tools data but this is generally viewed as much inferior data that what was available before. My advice to clients is to not worry too much about what keywords are driving traffic and to pay attention to what landing pages are getting the most visits and more importantly what pages are converting best into whatever goal your website has.

If you have not setup goal tracking you should do it straight away as it’s a powerful way to get the best returns from your site.

If you would like AntosĀ to help you setup goal tracking please drop us a line and we can discuss it with you.

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