When analyzing your SEO performanceGoogle analytics is one of the most useful tools. Analytics can tell you much about traffic to your site and one of the most important things is the keywords used to find your site. But if you do check your analytics you might notice a large portion of your traffic coming from the term “(Not Provided)”. So what does “Not Provided” mean? The simple answer is the Google could not capture the keyword used to find your website so these terms were grouped into one category.
Why was Google not able to obtain this information? The simple answer is that the user was searching using an encryption on his/her search results. Many popular web browsers use a secure version of Google search in order to protect your privacy. By using a secure search, your search data is harder to be tracked. This increases your web privacy. Google has two secure searching products, Google Encrypted Search and Google SSL Search. Both of these products eliminate the possibility of someone eavesdropping on your search queries. These programs help keep your information safe from a consumers standpoint but make it harder to analyze data from a business owner standpoint. Do not expect this term to go away anytime soon. The number of (not provided) results is actually going to increase.
Firefox is currently the most used browser in the world at around 36.5%. Firefox currently uses Google’s secure search function as there default search engine. So when you open a Firefox browser and use the search box in the top right, you are using a secure Google search (https://www.google.com) as opposed to the normal search (http://www.google.com).
Is there a solution to capture these search terms? At the moment analytics data cannot capture this information, but there are some tools that can help capture this data. Google AdWords tracks your customers’ keywords using a pay per click method. While you cannot connect these keywords with that persons IP address, you do know the term used to find your site. Google webmaster tools also are able to track keywords over the past 30 days but have the same connection to IP addresses issue that AdWords has.
For the moment it appears as though (not provided) results will continue to increase and frustrate traffic analyzers. This problem could be lessened if Google Webmaster Tools went back further then 30 days but it currently does not. As for a long term solution to the privacy protection issue, search engine optimizers will just have to wait.
– Matt Wilkos
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