It’s time everyone learns what exactly the keyword “(not provided)” means when looking at your Google Analytics dashboard. On October 18, 2011, Google made an announcement to the public that they would begin making search more secure….for everyone else but the people of Google. Yes, that’s right. I said October 18, 2011…
For those that didn’t click the link, “more secure” means classifying individual search terms as “(not provided).” It’s been almost two years, so why are there still a massive amount of people that are unaware of this change. That’s a good question. You have a lot of great questions. In simplest terms, if an individual is logged into avenue of their Google account (Gmail, YouTube, Google Apps, AdWords, Analytics, etc.) and they perform a search through Google, any keyword(s) that are used fall into this “(not provided)” category. And most often than not, people browsing the Internet have their passwords saved, remained logged in and/or are completely unaware of websites keeping them logged in at all times. Websites do this in order to track the browsing characteristics and traffic paths of individuals using their sites, everyday people do this because no one wants to have to remember the hundreds of logins and passwords they have to access anything online these days.
While Google originally said this will only be a small percentage of search results, Google’s entire platform and their hold on the Internet industry continues to expand daily. Because of that, I continually see “(not provided)” as the top performing keyword for us here at G/L and our clients. This is a problem.
How can you optimize your sites and content using keywords if you can’t see all of these results? We can’t. But of course, Google has access to all of this information and uses it internally to collect analytics, optimize their platforms and sell their services. Pretty interesting if you ask me.
We all know how much news, information, stories, breaking studies, resources, etc. are released daily. That being said, if you are not directly linked to the web analytics and tracking industry, you probably didn’t hear about these changes. It’s an example of one of those things that flew under the radar for most outsiders.
If you don’t understand the behavior of visitors to your website, your business strategies and objectives online might be a bit misguided. So start looking at another analytical information that Google tracks such as: pages/visit, total visits and unique visitors.
What do I like to look at the most? Traffic sources. I like knowing where people are coming from, how they are finding the website and how different content produced effects both. Web traffic is no longer all about keywords and backlinks. It’s about relevant content, thought-leading content and engaging converstations on social media. However, Google Analytics are still important and should never been ignored when monitoring your digital traction. Next time you log into your Google Analytics dashboard, look at your numbers for direct traffic, referral traffic (which social media platform are people coming from), organic traffic and paid traffic (PPC).