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Google Encrypted Search: Keyword Data Not Provided Exceeds Single Digit Percentages

Google Encrypted Search: Keyword Data Not Provided Exceeds Single Digit Percentages

Three weeks after the announcement of Google encrypted search by default the percentage of keyword data “not provided” jumped, with some websites surpassing the estimated single digit percentages. As many in the SEO community expected, this change significantly impacts the amount of data provided in analytics reports.

To bring you up to speed, Google announced on October 18th the roll out of encrypted search results by default for all logged in users. Gmail, G+, G whatever; if you are logged into your Google account and search using google.com, it’s a secure search.

That means when you click on an organic search result, the keyword you used to search will not be shown in that website’s analytics. Instead, analytics will show “not provided” for the keyword, along with all others from secure searches.

Why does this enrage many SEO pros? Simple because, we love data. We delve into it, analyzing search engine traffic to see what is working, what is not, and how we can improve a website’s SEO and user experience. We learn what keywords searchers use to find our websites and which ones bring traffic that converts. We also see which keywords brought visitors who then quickly bounced. It’s data we don’t like losing.

Google claims the change increases user privacy, and many applauded the move. Yet, only organic search results sending traffic to unsecure sites is kept private – not clicks on paid ads.

Google also said this change would only impact a single digit percentage of searches. Like many SEO pros, I had to see for myself.

I looked at the data for 10 different client websites from various industries, pulling out the percentages of “not provided” keywords for each week since the announcement. The first two weeks were not impacted too much (although, any loss of data is too much in my opinion). But last week a real impact began to show. Although the percentage of keyword data “not provided” stayed within Google’s single digit estimate for 4 of the 10 sites, the other 6 passed it.

The chart below shows the percentage of growth for keywords not provided in the last three weeks.

In the table below are the actual percentages of keyword data “not provided”, comparing the first, second and third week after the announcement:

How much the percentages will continue to grow – we do not know. I suspect quite a bit. What do you think?

Are you tracking the impact of Google encrypted search? We’d love to hear your thoughts and see your data!

Terri Stevens
Terri Stevens is an SEO specialist for Forthea. She loves to travel, especially aboard cruise ships (floating casinos!), and spends free time with family and enjoying the outdoors.


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