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"Not Provided" in Google Analytics

Date Thursday, 17 October 2013 , By: Michael Bunn , In: Digital Marketing

Not Provided in Google Analytics

Whenever we use the Google search engine to look up a term, those search terms are reported to a destination site that monitors the traffic. Say, for example, someone performs a search for a specific brand name like McDonald’s. That data will appear on a Google online marketing traffic report. Keyword searches are vital to a marketing campaign because they help bridge the gap between supply and demand.

For example, if one were to search for fast food in general, the Google search engine would likely provide you with links to McDonald’s or Burger King. The Google analytics progress report however will reveal a collective term under its searches, labeled “not provided”.

What does “not provided” mean? It means that a visitor has typed in a key word but the search engine is refusing to provide you with the information of that search. This process negates the destination website from seeing who has searched for the specific term. Instead, the search and the visits to these sites are grouped under a category known as “not provided” in an analytics report.

When is “Not Provided” Likely to Appear?

When users log into their personal Google accounts, like Gmail, the secure version of Google search automatically activates. One will notice that this will occur with Yahoo and Facebook as well. The letter “s” appears after “http” on the web address. This indicates that the site is secure and any searches made while the “s” appears on the web address will be reported as “not provided” in the analytics report. This is actually done to protect the privacy of the user. Web browsers like Firefox and Google Chrome can be configured to the secure version of a Google search page.

Uses for “Not Provided” Key Word Data

Even no news is good news and that’s certainly the case with the “not provided” key word data. Say, that you get 30 hits of “not provided”. There’s a good chance that the searcher intended to look for your particular company. Another area you might want to look at in the analytics report is the landing pages section the “not provided” keywords are driving traffic to. The landing page shows the file name or rather the sub category of the search. For example, if the searcher is looking for horror films at a specific online store, they web address on the landing page may appear as https://www.abcmovies.com/films/horror. That web address in itself will provide you analytical information because it shows that the searcher was looking for films, more specifically, horror films.

The Future of “Not Provided”

The whole point of “not provided” is to protect user’s privacy when searching for content. Nevertheless, measuring traffic results accurately is vital if you’re looking to get your site to rank well on Google. A recent Google update has revealed that all keyword data in Analytics will now fall under “not provided.” This is part of Google’s long term plan to shift focus from generic keyword searches to focused content. By making it harder for webmasters to track keyword searches, Google shifts importance to individual pieces of content. In order to generate traffic you will have to drive traffic to pages through popular posts that are shared online.

The future of “not provided” is another step Google is taking towards quality content and away from keyword focus. With that said keywords will still have relevance in the short term, so conducting research in other ways and adjusting your strategy as such is still an important part of your online marketing strategy.

Michael Bunn

By: Michael Bunn

Mike officially joined Blue Frontier in 2015 when the company acquired Dynamics Digital. Mike was the founder of DD and built the business up single-handedly. He combines genuine, market leading expertise with strong leadership and heads up the Blue Frontier Digital Team. The addition of the skills and experience of DD has meant that Blue Frontier can now offer a full end-to-end digital service. Mike sits on the board of directors, and is instrumental in guiding BF marketing strategy.