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‘Not Provided’ Keywords Skyrocket

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Monday March 12, 2012 )

The ‘not provided’ keywords in Google Analytics reporting, which was only meant to affect searches in the single digits, is rapidly going past that.

In case you aren’t aware of what the ‘not provided’ indicates; late last year Google began redirecting signed in users to its SSL (secure) search feature. When searches are performed via this channel, the keywords used for clicks from organic listings are not reported in Google Analytics reports, just the aggregated number of visits from it.

Back when it originally started happening, a Google representative reportedly stated the number of searches it would affect would be in the single digits.

Starting March 6/7, there was a huge spike on the Google Analytics reports for all 9 sites I monitor. Since that time ‘not provided’ keywords have been north of 10%, with one site hitting more than 15% on average.

When you can’t see 15% of search terms used, that’s becoming a bit of a problem. I’ve heard you can get around the issue by marrying Webmaster Tools with Google Analytics; but that presents its own issues.

Why this happened starting from a specific date was puzzling. I was expecting to see a gradual increase as more folks started using Google services such as Plus; but to see the percentage more than double overnight was very odd.

Digging around Google announcements in recent weeks, I found one dated the 5th of March that stated over the next few weeks Google would begin introducing SSL search “beyond to our local domains around the globe”.

Looks like they didn’t waste any time. “Over the next few weeks” might indicate even more ‘not provided’ keywords are yet to come. Considering Google would likely want to see as many people as possible signed into their services; Google Analytics could be a very interesting beastie in the months and years ahead.


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