It’s been about the month since Google made the switch to SSL search for users signed into their Google accounts. With this change came the loss of receiving keyword data from organic search which now shows in your Google Analytics under Traffic Sources > Sources > Search > Organic as (not provided) keywords.
Initially, Matt Cutts said webmasters would only see (not provided) keywords in single-digit percentages which made it sound like it would be something that would be hardly noticeable. Maybe what Google didn’t factor in was how many people would be staying logged in to their Google accounts thanks to Google+, but regardless of whether it is a single-digit percentage or not, it is noticeable.
After a month, I decided to take a look at my own analytics. Compared to the keyword data you are still getting using an Advanced Segment for (not provided) traffic vs. all visits, it doesn’t look so bad and is as promised, a single digit percentage of 4.59%.
What bothers me is this…
The fact that (not provided) is now my top referring keyword. That’s 1,129 visitors in the last 30 days that I cannot analyze correctly. That’s 1,129 keywords whose bounce rate averages out to 83.97% that I won’t be able to work on.
Is it really about privacy?
Another thing that gets me is that this doesn’t really seem to be about user privacy. For one thing, if I was paying for Google AdWords, I would still get to see the keywords that users searched which led to paid search results. So if I was paying for it, I’d get it.
Then there’s the fact that Google is still logging your search activity. Sure it’s just for your own “personal” web history, but I’m sure whether or not you turn this setting on or off, they are still keeping tabs on your organic searches.
According to the Google’s document on Web History and Privacy…
“Over time, the service may also use additional information about your activity on Google or other information you provide us in order to deliver a more personalized experience.”
To see your web history since you first logged in to your Google account, click on this link when logged in. This is where you can “pause” and remove all web history items if you so choose to.
Of course, if you read further into the Privacy FAQ…
“You can choose to stop storing your web activity in Web History either temporarily or permanently, or remove items, as described in Web History Help. If you remove items, they will be removed from the service and will not be used to improve your search experience. As is common practice in the industry, Google also maintains a separate logs system for auditing purposes and to help us improve the quality of our services for users. For example, we use this information to audit our ads systems, understand which features are most popular to users, improve the quality of our search results, and help us combat vulnerabilities such as denial of service attacks.”
Want see more real not provided numbers in Google Analytics?
The following are additional articles with real Google Analytics numbers related to the (not provided) keyword.
- How Much Data Will Your Site Lose With Google Encrypted Search Default? – Analysis after less than a week of this change going live shows how even .97% can equal the loss of keyword data for 195K searches.
- Quantifying the Impact of Google’s Keyword Referral Data Shutdown – shows a visualization of 60 sites’ analytics data plus SEOmoz’s own missing keyword data.
How has the new SSL search for logged in Google account users affected your Google Analytics? Do you believe privacy is the real motivator? Please share your thoughts on not provided in the comments!