My first impressions of the (not provided) data in Google Analytics
Many of my friends working in the SEO space have expressed grief around Google's recent change on how they track organic search visits in Google Analytics. I too, am not very happy with this change, but like many others who have expressed their opinions in the Google analytics blog, it will have me twiddling my thumbs to decide what to report on if the % of organic search ever exceeds 10%…
A bit of background of what happened… the change is reflected on users who are signed into their Google account and makes a secure search under httpS://www.google.com. For example, if you make a search for "super mario custume" in Google, your query data will not be seen in the website owner's analytics software. Instead, the reports show up as (not provided) under the Organic Search report in Google Analytics v5. If you are still working in v4, then it will be in your keyword report under Traffic Sources where source = organic. With that in mind, the # of organic search traffic in Google Analytics will still be tracked (the quantative figure), just not the actual keyword.
You might begin to see this in your reports:
SEOmoz put up an emergency whiteboard friday on their site last night shedding a bit of light on this issue and provided a way to track the https change over time. Avinash also shared with his followers a method for tracking this change over time by creating a custom report in Google Analytics. I will report back here / Cardinal Path's blog with some results to show how much this change is affecting site traffic once we gather enough data (probably within a week's time).
A few bulleted points that I pulled out from other discussions around the sphere included:
- @justincutroni tweeted "As a result of the Google switch to secure search I'm seeing about 1.5% of Organic searches bucketed as (not provided)" – link to tweet
- mattgratt on the SEOmoz blog – 2.2% is very consistent with what we're seeing. I've seen as high as 4% on sites serving highly technical audiences, down to .5% and less on sites that serve a less technical audience – link to article
Overall, I think this will affect greatly in our organic search reporting if the direction of the trend points Up. But if this is here to stay, let's take a look at this in a bigger picture and refocus ourselves back to goals, things that are important to your business. One item your business may want to keep an eye on is;
- % of conversions from (not provided) traffic
Will this loss of intelligence (not being able to see what keyword logged in visitors used before converting) affect how we do our keyword resesarch / reporting? Only time will tell…
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
October 22, 2011 / Jackson Lo / 3