keyword search terms and encrypted data

Have you noticed that Google Analytics is returning ‘not provided’ when you view user search terms? Let me tell you why…

Google Analytics screen grab

  • I don’t know why, but my theory is that they will start a pay-for-service to unlock those results. Much in the way they are now charging for usage of Google Maps for those over 25k user sessions a day.

    Not to flame on Google with the whole “Grr, they are trying to rip us off” because at the moment we are getting a good product for free (be it with ads). Maybe those ivory backscratchers are getting expensive on the Google campus and thus they are looking for more revenue. 

    Any way, that’s my idea, not to say it is going to happen. I wouldn’t be surprised if say 3 months down the line they update their usage terms to say they “may charge” for Google Analytics.

    • Well, they are already coming out with Google Analytics Premium for $150K.  I think the really dirty trick is if they allow encrypted search queries for GAP, but not GA.  I think the day they start putting key functionality into GAP and withholding it from GA will be a sad, sad day.

  • I’m pretty sure that it’s a move by Google to shrink the organic search space and grow revenue from adwords and similar products. The free ride looks to be coming to an end.
    I found this post  (no affiliation) that talks about the specific ‘not provided’ issue:
    and I’ve been noticing the general trend for a while. I discussed it in a blog post here (appologies for the link baiting post title. It is on topic! promise guv)

  • This was mentioned on the Sitepoint Podcast a few weeks ago (138 I think). 

    Google are starting to roll out encrypted search for logged in users. Therefore the search referrers aren’t passed to your site and they show up as (not provided) in your analytics. confirms it. However, “If you choose to click on an ad appearing on our search results page, your browser will continue to send the relevant query over the network to enable advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns”. So basically, if you’re a paying customer you still get the information. Perhaps they will offer an Analytics “Pro” down the line where you get to see all of it?

  • Agree with Tom that Google could be monetizing further, as this data is still available on paid for Adwords accounts.

    Google is also trying to expand it’s Google+  social network and make +1 a popular rating tool, so as this increases it could play a part in how website owners see data on visitors to their sites. 

    As Siri search and Twitter real time search continues to grow, I’d expect to see even further changes about how Google operates and monetizes it’s operations in 2012.

  • I think one of the most thoughtful discussions on whether this is a deliberate move to boost revenue, or collateral damage from other changes is the one started by Danny Sullivan:

    Personally I with the ‘collateral’ camp, rather than the ‘conspiracy’ one.

    The blog post on eConsultancy which you mention ( )will only get you a clue in the form of the landing page fron the search. It depends a great deal on your site how much insight you can gain from this. I think we’re all losers from this, and that includes ‘us’ as visitors to site. The search terms provided great information about what we wanted and the site owners could use that to learn what to provide.

  • At least the data that is not visible anymore might be spread over all the search terms so it just shrinks the base of data and shouldn’t change the proportions between the search terms still visible.

  • A bit annoying but hey, least we forget google analytics is an awesome and powerful package that we all get for free. You wouldn’t see Apple giving something like that out for nothing. 
    Hopefully it’s just a matter of a small fee for a premier account or soemthing of the like, which I think many people who have sites big enough for that data to be really valuable would be happy to pay for.

  • It is a crazy move by Google and one I can’t fathom, especially as it’s going to become more and more common with the uptake of Google +. A lot of people are going to be logged into their Google account permanently, killing all keyword search data. I wonder if soon search engine term analysis is going to become obsolete.