Let’s first recap the “Not Provided” statistic. Google secure search is designed to product your search criteria from programs that want to capture this data for marketing purposes. This allows marketers to better understand your search habits and better market themselves to fit your search criteria. When secure search was launched, those using the system had their information blocked. When Google analytics traffic software cannot read your search information, that search term is classified as [Not Provided].
In May of 2010 Google launched their first version of encrypted search. This was available for public use but an online user would have to go to the secure search URL. In October of 2011, those users who were logged into Google and searching through google.com were automatically routed through secure search. At the time, Google estimated that this might only impact 10% of searches. March of 2012 marked the use of secure search for those using Google with international domains. Possibly the largest impact to the “not provided” statistic came in July of 2012 when Firefox announced that their new internet browser (Firefox 14) would use Google secure search for all searches. This month, Chrome announced the latest version of Chrome would also use the secure search feature. Although this is not out to the public yet, this could represent a major increase in the number of “not provided” statistics”. Other browsers such as Safari are also using the secure search feature. So what does this all mean?
As the number of secure searches rises, we expect to see the number of “not provided” statistics to rise accordingly. But they will probably increase in spurts. When iPhone releases the next version we will probably expect a rise in “not provided” as these phone use the safari browser. New Google phones and other products that come standard with Safari, Firefox or Google search bars will also impact this statistic as well.
Maybe one of the most important things to monitor is the use of use of specific browsers. Currently Firefox, Safari, and soon Chrome, all have some type of protected search function. At the moment, Bing and Yahoo still do not use a secure SSL encryption. But these two search engine make up roughly 30% of the market. Firefox, Chrome and Safari all use Google as their default search engine and this year those three browsers make up roughly 75% of the total browsers used. These numbers suggest that we are getting closer and closer to appoint where all search results will yield [ Not Provided ]. I am not sure this will ever happen but if Bing and Yahoo move over to secure search, Google Analytics will have to make changes as to how they collect and report their Data.
By Matthew Wilkos