If you use Google Analytics to analyze your site’s traffic, then you may have seen “(not provided)” creep up as a top listing in the Keywords section of your Traffic Sources Overview.
But what does that mean exactly?
Well, a few weeks ago Google started encrypting searches if someone is logged into their Google account. So instead of http:// you may see https://, which means your search is encrypted with SSL, or Secure-Socket Layers. This is the same type of encryption you see when you enter your credit card during an online purchase.
Here’s how Google describes it in their official announcement:
When you search from https://www.google.com, websites you visit from our organic search listings will still know that you came from Google, but won’t receive information about each individual query. They can also receive an aggregated list of the top 1,000 search queries that drove traffic to their site for each of the past 30 days through Google Webmaster Tools.
So that’s me as a searcher of content, but what about me as a creator of content? Well, as someone with a blog, this means that you won’t be able to see how some people are getting to your blog through organic searches.
Danny Sullivan from SearchEngineLand.com brilliantly describes is as “The Web’s Caller ID.” Google claims that only about 10% of searches will be affected… and if you look at my screenshot above you see I’m just a tad over 10%. But that’s my #1 listing under keywords… 253 visits of which I have no idea how they got to Momcomm. And that pretty much sucks.
If you aren’t analyzing keyword data yet, then you’re missing out. Looking at my top keywords tells me how people come to Momcomm through search engines, if they are staying on my site or bouncing and more. If I see a certain keyword’s getting a high bounce rate but it’s a topic I write about, then I know I need to do some SEO on some blog posts. If I know I want to rank for a certain keyword but it’s showing up really low on my list, then again, gotta do some optimizing.
That’s why as a blogger it sucks that I’m not getting this data. Of course, Google says you can get an aggregated list through Google Webmaster Tools. But as Danny points out “the search data won’t be tied to visitor activity. You’ll be able to tell that someone found your site in various ways, but what they did next — if they converted in some way and so on — won’t be shown.”
Another big fat BOO.
So now that you know what’s going on, what can you do about it? Well, you can see some data if you have that Google Webmaster Tools set up. But I know I’m not going to make a habit of looking there. I’ll probably just mutter under my breath that Google no longer believes their “Don’t Be Evil” mantra and work with the data that I DO have.
Well, now that was a fun, cheerful post wasn’t it?
If you want a super detailed overview of this and its implications to analytics, read the post Google To Begin Encrypting Searches & Outbound Clicks By Default With SSL Search from SearchEngineLand.com. If you just wanna pout, then you can do that too.
What do you think about the change either as a blogger or as someone who uses search engines?