Google Analytics Not Provided vs Not Set Data

Web marketers that are trying to determine how visitors are reaching their site have an ever-increasing challenge. As we reported a year ago, Google has stopped passing the keyword data that is associated with the web search by visitors that are logged into their Google accounts when they perform a search. This results in the keyword data being lumped into a category called Not Provided.

Not Provided: The keywords used in Organic Search when the searcher is logged into their Google account. Keywords used to search that resulted in a click on your pay per click advertising are not included.

Why is Google doing this? Google cites security and privacy reasons for hiding this data.

Firefox Adding to The Problem: The most recent Firefox browser update includes encryption of all Google searches by default, regardless if the user is signed in or not. This occurred in late July 2012 and has caused “Not Provided” numbers to increase.

What this means for you: On average we are seeing approximately 25% ( and as high as 50%) of the search term data being hidden in the Not Provided keyword category. This makes year over year keyword analysis difficult as the data will obviously be skewed. This also makes casual keyword research using current data inaccurate.

Not Set: This is another data anomaly that appears in Google Analytics reports. A visitor is recorded as Not Set When they do not come in through search i.e. there is no keyword. Usually this visitor arrives directly or through referral. A good example of this could be a visitor that comes in through Google maps or Google image search.

As the amount of data that is hidden from marketers increases so will the importance of retaining a professional search marketing agency. Experienced SEO’s generate research data from multiple sources and can draw on past experience to create your campaign data. Discount and offshore SEO vendors will deliver increasingly inaccurate campaign data as they rely primarily on keyword research tools to create campaigns.

Resources / More Information: Dark Google: One Year Since Search Terms Went “Not Provided”

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About David

David Tucker: Search Engine Optimization, Link Building Strategies, Off-Page SEO, Brand and Reputation Management Campaigns, Structural Analysis, and Analytics Consultant. Fighting the good fight against the search engines since InfoSeek and Alta Vista were the top Internet search portals. David has a strong background in technical, design, and hosting related issues. This provides RightNow clients with a layer of SEO that most organizations can not offer. In addition to SEO work, David has developed the RightNow online client reporting system, public website, email and auto-responder system, and the development + branding of the RightNow social media channels. When not working you can find David enjoying the outdoors in Maui, Hawaii

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