Increases in (Not Provided)
Just over a year ago Google made searching while signed into your own account more private but in doing so has given us less information in analytics. So what’s behind the increasing number search results showing up as ‘Not Provided’?
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption was introduced back in October 2011 to hide the search terms used to find a site. The encryption was only used when a person was signed into their Google account. For example, if someone who was not signed in were to search for “Fireplaces” and click on your site in the results, you would be able to see in the analytics that the term “Fireplaces” had been used. If that same person were to search in exactly the same way but while signed in, the search would appear in the analytics as ‘Not Provided’. While this does provide better security while signed in it gives us much less information about how the individual keywords are being used to find the site. There is an exception to this rule though in the shape of Google Ads. The “Fireplaces” search does appear in analytics if the user clicks on an advert you have running. It is probably safe to assume that Google does this as to not upset paying customers.
When SSL was introduced, Google predicted that less than 10% of the keyword search terms would be ‘Not Provided’. A recent study by Optify found that over 60% of the sites they monitored were seeing 30 – 50% of their Google visits withheld.
As Google encourages users to sign in for all its different services it’s easy to see how much of this increase has come about. What Google might not have predicted though is that other search providers have also started to use SSL. In a bid to make their browser more secure, Firefox adopted the encryption for all Google searches (except ads), signed in or not. Apple has taken things further. Safari on iOS6 only shows searches as going directly to the site with no exceptions for adverts.
As browsers compete to become more secure we’ll probably see even more used of SSL. Will Chrome adopt the encryption as standard at some point? Analysis of Keyword is only a small part of how a site is performing but it’s something that we seem to be losing.