In late 2011, Google announced that it would start encrypting search results of logged in Google users, to help protect users’ privacy. This initially sent some search marketers into a spin, as they were scared they would lose their precious Keyword Data in Google Analytics.
(Note that this protection of privacy did not extend to users of Google Adwords, where your searches will still get passed on to advertisers).
Anyway, I thought I would do a quick recap to see what kind of effect this was having on our analytics data so far this year. Below is a graph showing – very basically – the results by geographical area of what percentage of search terms are now “Not provided” by Google in our Google analytics accounts.
Note that although I am presenting a scienc-ey graph, the results should not be assumed to be too accurately sciencey, they are just demonstrating what we are seeing as a pattern among our own sites, and those of other analytics accounts we manage.
Note also that the ‘geographical’ areas I am using are where the site is targeted, not where the users are actually located (which may arguably be more useful, but which would also take a significantly longer time to organise – I might do that in the future).
Note that ‘Not Provided’ search terms are only an issue when users have been logged in to Google. You can see that this is happening almost 12% of the time in the USA. I was surprised to see that the Asian sites were so highly represented in this table, insinuating many Asian users are also logged in to Google accounts. Strange.
Australia and Europe were the lowest, insinuating we are less frequent users of Google properties like Gmail, etc.
It is expected (by me), that sites which have a higher volume of ‘savvy’ internet users, like technology sites, would have higher rates of Google account usage, and therefore “not provided” keywords. This proved true with 13.51% of keywords to our technology sites not providing search terms.
The actual results of our survey of websites showed that ‘not provided’ keywords contributed from around 2% to 14% of organic searches this year, depending on the site.
The weighted average of all sites surveyed was 9.29%.