Explanation of (not provided) in Google Analytics reports – Organic results
This post is a collaboration of the SEO and performance measurement teams.
Google announced a few months ago the addition of an SSL version for users who are logged into their Google account and who use the google.com version. Until then, this announcement had a slight impact on sites in Canada and outside the United States. Then, on March 5, it announced the expansion of its SSL version to several other domains, impacting google.ca.
We're now ready to expand this protection, so over the next few weeks we will begin introducing SSL search beyond google.com to our local domains around the globe.
In the last few days, several managers are wondering about the presence of this (not provided) in their organic traffic reports on Google Analytics. Therefore, we believe it is relevant to explain the grouping (not provided) and offer you an approach to estimate the keywords found in the (not provided).
IMPACT OF (NOT PROVIDED) ON YOUR REPORTS
To give you an idea, here is the impact of this change on adviseo.ca. As we reach a slightly more “techno” readership, a significant portion of our visitors have a Google account. However, for the majority of sites in Quebec, the (not provided) represents rather 10 to 20% of organic visits.
KEYWORD REPORT FOR THE LAST WEEK
INCREASE IN (NOT PROVIDED) SINCE MARCH 5
The reality is that an increasing share of keywords driving organic traffic will end up in the “(not provided)” bucket.
UNDERSTAND THE (NOT PROVIDED)
Here are the two scenarios that prevent Google Analytics from capturing the keyword:
1) The user is connected to his Google account (therefore in https protocol), and he does a search on Google.
2) The user has logged out of their Google account, but the URL in their browser remains in SSL ( https://www.google.ca ).
In both of these cases, the data sent to Google Analytics will not contain the keyword in the search query and will look like this:
__utma=283581044.1927342995.1331076603.1331076603.1331076603.1; +__utmz=155771044.1331076603.1.1. utmcsr=google|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic| utmctr=(not%20provided);
In other cases, i.e. when a visitor searches on google.ca and is not connected to a Google account (standard HTTP protocol, not secure), the data sent to Google Analytics will look like this:
__utma=283581044.1927342995.1331076603.1331076603.1331076869.2; +__utmz=155771044.1331076869.2.2. utmcsr=google|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic| utmctr=adviso;
In this situation, the keyword is indeed sent to the Google Analytics servers and it ends up in your organic traffic reports.
IMPACT OF THIS CHANGE IN ORGANIC TRAFFIC ANALYSIS
Keep in mind that the keyword trend observed is very similar to what was happening before this change, since "(not provided)" includes both branded keywords (eg Adviso) and non-branded keywords. brand (e.g. web strategy)
ESTIMATE THE KEYWORDS FOUND IN THE (NOT PROVIDED)
We propose a technique to assess the share of branded and non-branded keywords, based mainly on the analysis of (not provided) segmented by landing pages.
Of course, it's case by case depending on each site and you have to have an idea of the landing pages that most often come out in a good position for a particular keyword, but it can give a good basic idea.
In your report (Organic / Natural results), click on the keyword (not provided) to display only the visits found in the (not provided). Then display the secondary variable (Landing Page / Destination Page).
In this way, you can know the pages that have received visits from keywords found in the (not provided).
1- The page /2012/02/29/new-facebook-pages-understanding-the-timeline-for-your-brand/ discusses the new Facebook Timeline page for businesses. We can therefore estimate that it generated visits on keywords surrounding this subject.
2- Our home page (/) generates organic visits mainly on the keyword “Adviso”. We can therefore estimate that around 10% of the keywords in the (not provided) are branded keywords.
3- And so on….
This new SSL version of Google is not unanimous among SEO specialists, because it involves changes in the way of analyzing performance.
For some sites, it will be difficult to analyze the performance of SEO actions keyword by keyword. It is becoming more and more relevant to analyze the “big picture” and to look more closely at the performance (increase or decrease in organic visits) of the sections and pages of your site.