Thoughts from the McDonagh team on technology, the Web, mobile, search, and more.

Why is (not provided) showing up more frequently in Google Analytics?

Posted on 5/3/2012 by Neal Hohman

If you rely on Google Analytics for visitor tracking information on your website you've probably noticed an increase in the appearance of (not provided) as the search keyword.

Google made a change at the end of last year where anyone logged-in to a Google account—through any one of their properties: Gmail, Google+, Google Analytics, Google Adwords, etc.—would have their searches encrypted, and make them off limits to the Google Analytics tracking code.

Google said this should impact only a small number of searches, less than 10%, but observers have noticed a much higher percentage since the change. Matt McGee at Search Engine Land writes,

In the six-plus months since Google began encrypting searches and outbound clicks by default for logged-in users on, (not provided) keyword referrals have grown well beyond the single-digit searches that Google originally said would be affected.

The conventional wisdom has been that it’s a problem that mostly affects SEO- and search industry-related websites. . .At the start of the year, though, I shared a few examples of non-tech/non-search sites that were already seeing (not provided) as one of their Top 10 referring keywords only two-and-a-half-months after Google made the change.

With Firefox moving to secure search by default and Google announcing in March that secure search would expand beyond the U.S., it’s nearly certain that (not provided) will become more common and affect more websites well beyond the search and tech industries.

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