Wildcard Friday – Google [Not Provided] Data

By Joe


Back in October Google announced their decision to encrypt organic search data for users signed into Google accounts.

What this means is that if a user signed into their Google+ account or even Gmail and happened to stay signed in while also doing a Google search, their organic keyword data would no longer be carried over in analytics subsequently would be presented as [not provided].

As an SEO this specific keyword data is not only important in measuring ROI at a keyword level of a campaign but also in helping to identify keywords that would be worth targeting for future projects.

I would like to add that as a side note PPC data was not affected by this update.

Now, as part of their attempt to downplay the change they announced that this would only effect 10% of searches on average. Now the numbers I am seeing on average are actually surprisingly slightly LOWER than this and I am finding that from a traffic and revenue standpoint it is on average around 7% for both metrics.

So lets take this opportunity to look at an example of how this data will appear in analytics.

Now for this example I chose to go with an extreme case in which [not provided] traffic makes up about 16% of overall traffic since the update. But the really alarming metric is that it accounts for about 17% of organic revenue. Now like I said this is an extreme example of a client being effected by this update and as I mentioned from what I am seeing the average for my clients which are predominantly online retailers fall under around 7%.

Now, this update certainly makes it a bit harder to attribute ROI at a keyword level. But there are a couple options we have in determining whether a keyword is worth going after.

  1. Test With PPC – I am sure the team at google that thought of this update certainly had this option in mind.
  2. Although the keyword data is being withheld, we still can determine top revenue driving PAGES in analytics and thus we can use a little intuition to determine revenue driving keywords.


So in conclusion when Google gives you lemons you have no choice but to make lemonade. As SEO’s we are used to rolling with the punches and adapting, so this update although definitely is NOT something I approve of there is not much we can do about it. So I hope you all gained a little insight into how to move forward now that we are little bit more in the dark. Please make sure to join us for an interesting SEO Monday post from Lauren regarding updated click through rate percentages based on ranking visibility.