I’ve been watching on those (not provided) organic keywords search data from Google Analytics reports for my clients websites for more than 12 months. Since October 2011, Google changed the way it harvests data from organic search to they called “protect users’ privacy”.
Wonder what caused (not provided) data in your analytics report?
Because Google hides search terms from your referring search engine traffic logs. When searchers are logged into their Google account through any of Google service (i.e. Gmail, Google map, Google+) before they use Google search, Firefox search bar, and Chrome address bar, all searches are encrypted with HTTPS, causing that “(not provided)” results in your traffic Analytics keyword data.
These data reveals what keywords searchers used to find our websites. Therefore they are extreamly valuable. Without this complete search keywords map, we miss those percentage of keywords which our sites were organically ranked for.
I am not here to argue that is unfair to hide this valuable search keyword data from webmasters while Google itself can nevertheless have access to and take advantage of those hidden data.
Some SEO marketers claimed that their (not provided) data takes about 30-50 percent of organic traffic from Google. I found that our customers’ website has about 30-40 percent, which is still within that range but slightly lower. I am not sure whether that is because our customers are local businesses.
Some SEO marketers even suggested that keyword-based search engine optimization should be opt out of marketing plan from now on. I don’t agree with that idea. Because The good news is that organic search results still drive a good deal of qualified traffic, it still worth more time and efforts to figure out what’s really behind those (not provided) data.
Of those several ways to unlock those (not provided) data, I found that add filter to your website profile is effective and handy. This method was described in detail in Dan Barker’s econsultancy blog:
- In your Analytics account, head to Admin, then Profiles.
- Click the name of the profile you want to work with, and select the Filters tab.
- Create a new filter in your Analytics account:
The purpose of this filter is to extract the ‘not provided’ terms. To do this, extract the URL and rewrite the two in place of the original ‘not provided’ text. Although this doesn’t reveal the exact keyword, it can help you to understand where that traffic is going and whether you need to dig deeper with other techniques. (The important part – the rewrite – is highlighted in red in our screenshot.)
Note that this filter can’t be applied to historical data; you’ll only see it in action for new visits.
There’s a similar technique on Avinash Kaushik’s blog that involves creating an advanced segment to examine which landing pages your ‘not provided’ results are leading to.
Last word, as a SEO marketer, you know that evaluating rankings or visibility by studying those Google Analytics data is important. However to convert those traffic into leads and sales are even more important.