• http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    “Not provided” data has crept to almost 50% for my company site. That’s a far cry from the 10% Google initially said. And while I can appreciate how they are trying to protect privacy, it doesn’t make sense that Google wouldn’t do the same thing for AdWords data. Either do it the same across the board or not at all.

  • http://twitter.com/Nathan_Safran Nathan Safran

    We have plans to update our [not provided] study at Conductor soon.

  • Randy Stuck

    This has been quite annoying. A majority of our clients show (Not Provided) as the #1 search term, which, of course, renders all YoY Brand and Non-brand reporting useless as we have 10+% of our search terms unaccounted for.

    The idea that this increases privacy is quite ridiculous since it’s only from Google products and you can still get data from other analytics providers.

  • http://twitter.com/MartinLaetsch Martin Laetsch

    We have seen this steadily increase on our site. [not provided] was 43% for the first 2 weeks of June. It is 56.8% for the first 2 weeks of October.

  • http://twitter.com/joetek Joe Taiabjee

    You can’t even look at the remaining searches as a “representative sample” of the types of searches coming to the site. The result is too skewed.

    You could argue that the people that search on Google while logged in are more “Google Savvy” in the way they interact with Google and the search terms they choose. It’s quite probable that the search terms hidden in the (not provided) line are very different than the ones that show up below it.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Yeah, it’s a good point. I was thinking the same, when I looked at that 150X difference between “not provided” that I showed and the next term being so low. When the numbers are that low, exactly, are you still getting enough of a representative sample?

  • Jonathan O’Brien

    Wouldn’t encrypting the the search results also prevent the Bing toolbar from harvesting all those queries?? I ask in ignorance so correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that these changes happened following Google’s sting operation and their fear that Microsoft was plundering their spell corrections.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Yes, the encryption also indeed does help with the whole Bing’s spying on us thing.

  • Rachel McEneaney

    It would be great to hear what the percentages for “not provided” are common for certain industries, niches such as B2B industrial websites and per regions.

  • Jonathan O’Brien

    The reason I bring that up is this: The collateral damage done to publishers would have caused much more general uproar if the cited reason was merely to block the scraping of its search terms by a competitor’s toolbar instead of “increased user privacy”. To be honest though, I think the privacy issue is kind of pointless because the search terms that are being passed along are unattached to any identity. Additionally, any given website would only be seeing one such query at a time, not a pool of terms from which your identity could be deduced. The general public however, is much more sympathetic to the idea of “increased user privacy” (even if it is minimal or insignificant) rather than a company protecting its valued assets. I believe that Google’s stated goal of better user privacy is only a secondary benefit to their actual goal of preventing scrapping from their main rival. In that light, I think it’s less relevant whether or not Google fails to achieve its stated goal of search term privacy (considering the loophole available to its advertisers) when its primary goal is to stop Microsoft from mining those terms to its advantage. Similarly, the U.S. fights wars abroad to “protect its interests” and it’s only a side benefit that it happens to topple dictators and promote democracy. Yet, the latter is the official goal while the former is the actual motivator. In both cases, it’s more meaningful to discuss the effectiveness of their main goals instead of the PR spin that is meant for the greater public.

  • Justin Brock

    One more month and we’ll be at 50% of organic terms as (not provided), too. Have to use AdWords to do some keyword research now, which may be part of Google’s reasoning for making that change.

  • http://twitter.com/justguy justguy

    4 x specialist vertical B2B sites. “Not provided” has risen from 7% in March to 28% now. Direct traffic, not really a statistically significant change yet.

  • http://twitter.com/mvanwagner Matt Van Wagner

    Just checked one of our larger accounts. 25% of organic searches not provided. 99%+ of paid search queries are being reported.

  • terlmaa

    Well, Google seems to be jsut cool like that. What are you gonna do.

  • http://blog.truenorth.nu Mark Gannon

    I’m at 35% not provided in Google Analytics. Everything else is less than %5.

  • http://rendion.myopenid.com/ render

    I empathize with your concerns, but what will your complaint be when people stop using Google to search? Or hasn’t that hit you yet? Ive had it with them and stopped using them altogether duckduckgo does just fine. Im not trying to be sarcastic here, I seriously dont think google will have this monopoly for much longer. Search is way better now than it ever was, and guys in their metaphorical “garage” will put them out of business. I dont use a single google product for anything, and Im pretty happy with that…more will come to the same conclusion.

  • Joan62

    Great article. I had no idea of this activity going on. Looks like Google has gone deep into the dark side young Skywalker. The megalomanics have taken over.

  • http://socialfreshacademy.com/ Jason Keath

    SocialFresh.com is at 42% dark Google and another 11% direct traffic. The vast majority of that direct traffic looks to be search driven, as it is hitting our most popular search posts at the same ratios as the organic referrals we CAN see.

  • http://www.facebook.com/valentin.pletzer Valentin Pletzer

    Thanks for the article! My point of view: Google is learning a lot by crawling the web (our content) but denies us access to the keywords (their content). I am very disappointed :(

  • http://twitter.com/StalkerB StalkerB

    Are you suggesting other analytics packages can get around the (not provided) issue?

    The problem is not with how Google analytics processes data but how Google search results pass it through.

    No analytics package will be able to give you the keyword if it’s not passed along from the referrer.

  • Patxi Gadanon

    Great post Danny. We can never forget that Google is a business and its aim is to make money with paid ads. We have recently published a post with some insights on (not provided) based on the data we have. We identified some interesting trends. It complements your point. What do you think?

  • http://www.maximumferrari.com edkuryluk

    It was just 10 years ago, the boys at Google informed the world they would “Do No Evil”. How times have changed

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.schulenburg John Schulenburg

    I think Google will eventually make this data available for GA Premium. I think it’s been there plan all along to monetize the valuable data and stop competitors from poaching. The privacy argument is BS. It’s all about monetizing a valuable asset.

  • http://twitter.com/sworobec85 Steven Worobec

    This is without a doubt has been one of my biggest frustrations over the past year. As a marketer on a budget, understanding the landscape of a small industry through how people find the company and the work we do is vital. The “Not Provided” search term is now our top referral keyword and I’ve lost a bit of understanding about how people come to us. Even though I know what many people may look for within our industry, the internet is constantly evolving and people’s behaviours change, not being able to see this will ultimately lead to opportunities being missed.

    As a marketing professional I understand the need for privacy, especially with us being in a social age where everything about us is somewhere online. However with reduced budgets, smaller departments and more people going online, these changes and restrictions only seem to damage our understanding of our customers. I guess it’s a new sort of challenge with internet marketing and one which I’m confident we will find a way to adapt too – after all, we always do.

  • Jim McDonald


  • http://twitter.com/TexDesignStudio Tex Design Studio

    I’v noticed this as well, but you can adjust the cookies for a longer time periods. Also, from the content drill down report select keyword detailing. Then apply bounce as a secondary metric measure. No you don’t get insight into the KW, but it indicates how much importance (not provided) played in conversion.

  • Tom Homer

    Great article. I have been puzzled over the last 2 months why my direct traffic has been growing steadily. I found nothing to explain it until now. Way to go Apple…

    Google has profit in mind when they allow Adwords to see the not provided searches and not Analytics. Both should have access or none of them should.

  • Irene Blaauw

    Very interesting article. I checked this out for our website and our Dark Google is more than 31%, but still Google shows a lot of organic terms which we can use.