Analyzing Google’s “Not Provided” Keywords

You may notice while looking at your Google Analytics data that there is a large number of organic search queries that are labeled “not provided”. This has not always been the case, but the number of keywords in this category seems to be rising to some extent for all websites in all industries.

Can You Identify “Not Provided” Queries?

No, not exactly. However, there are some ways that you can salvage some useful data from the search terms that are masked and put into this category.

One of the best ways to get an idea of what types of visitors are represented by this data is to select the landing page as a secondary dimension in Google Analytics. The larger your website is, the more this will help you. You should be able to at least tell what subject was at the core of the user’s query. If you own a web design services website and you want to know which of your services are bringing in the most traffic from the search engines, you will be able to tell by looking at which page the user was shown and consequently brought to on your website after clicking on your link.

First, select the organic traffic link from the left column in Google Analytics. Next, click on the (not provided) keyword that is usually at the top of your list of incoming search terms. Once you have selected this, choose the landing page as the secondary dimension for your data. See the screen shot below if you are not familiar with how to do this…

Analyzing Google’s “Not Provided” Keywords image secondary dimension 2Analyzing Google’s “Not Provided” Keywords

Other Methods for Extracting Useful Information from “Not Provided” Data

There are lots of roundabout ways to try and find more information about where these visitors came from and why. If you run a corporate/enterprise level website I might recommend a quick Google search to check out some of the other articles that can be found regarding this topic. However, in my opinion, I don’t think that the majority of businesses will benefit from going overboard just to gain a little bit more data in this fashion. Nobody can tell you exactly what these people typed into Google to find you, the best you can do is start to make inferences and in some cases determine what “type” of link they were shown.

Why Does Google Display Keywords as “Not Provided”?

The term “not provided” is shown when a user finds your website through a query while they are logged into one of their Google product account. This could be a Google Plus account, Gmail, Adsense, or any other profile that you might have with them. The search queries that are made while logged in are hidden as part of Google’s privacy policies.

You won’t find many webmasters who are happy about this and most people in the SEO industry seem to think that the number of queries in this category will continue to grow.

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