It has been about a year since Google began encrypting the search data automatically for it’s signed in users, which has crept up in the search metrics to be a rather hefty portion. As it has turned out, almost 40% of the keyword results to a group of 400+ websites has returned the ‘not provided’ Google Analytics.
The 40% statistic of ‘not provided’ is just an average sampling of what has been found, some sites reported as high as a 60% sampling of the returned value. As a user of the web, on the surface it looks like a great feature that being signed into your Google account does not disclose how you searched for a site, but as someone who works daily on the web has been a slight hinderance. A very basic break down of how, as marketers, we would use search metrics to handle our site traffic is:
That’s just a very basic run down of how we use the information that is now hidden to Analytics users. Now that Analytics users are getting the returned value of ‘not provided’ keyword for as much as 40% of their search results, it makes it tougher for them to discern visitor flow through to their website.
It sounds on the surface like a win for user privacy and control of your information, but in reality it makes targeted marketing campaigns much more difficult. Think of it in terms of shotgun marketing versus precisely tuned, instead of finding exactly what you’re looking for in your search results page, you have to start playing the back and forth game. Click a result, if it’s not what you want, search again and try again. It can make the process much more drawn out than it should be.