GWC’s Best Sales Tool: (not provided)


Remember that rant I gave awhile back on how Google Invests in Privacy for Profit?

We’ve been watching the impact of those missing “not provided” results since then. Recently, while checking on the performance of a client’s recent redesign, we noticed the following in Google Analytics once we’d filtered the organic search traffic for our category and keywords:

Google Analytics: Organic Search Traffic

Google Analytics Organic Traffic Filtered

First thought: OH SHIT!

(the curse words were actually much worse, I’m sorry, I got my mouth from the Chicago side)

Next thought… wait, I wonder if “not provided” has anything to do with this. Sure enough that dramatic drop off occurred the same day that Google’s privacy update rolled out.

Here’s the keyword report for (not provided) that backs this up:
Not Provided Organic Traffic

Ok, great… I think we’re doing better, but this is really annoying to diagnose!

After a phenomenal dinner with Maile Ohye at Pubcon, I decided to give Google Webmaster Central’s Search Queries report more attention. Here’s what we found:

Google Webmaster Central: Top Queries

Google Webmaster Central Search Queries Filtered

Well, that looks a whole lot better!

Take what you will from the data, but on our end, we WILL be using Google Webmaster Central much more for reporting, flaws and all. In the meantime, I know the Google Webmaster Central team would love feedback on how to improve features and increase industry adoption.

My immediate suggestion: advanced filters and annotations please.

Let them know what you’d like to see. :)

Your Comments

  • Frank Zimper

    Though that is quite interesting I am still wondering what happened between Oct 20 and Oct 30? Why did the numbers for (not provided) not ramp up at the same time as the organic search traffic went down? Furthermore, the graph for “Organic Search Traffic” should contain the searches from encrypted search (not provided) so why does it tank at all?

    I assume that last graph is Top Queries filtered by “(not provided), is that correct?

    • Rhea Drysdale

      Hi Frank,

      The site’s redesign launched on October 28th, which is when we saw an increase in organic search traffic and why it took longer to notice.

      The Organic Search Traffic drops because it’s been filtered to only include keywords that we’re targeting. This automatically knocked out all (not provided) keywords since they’d have to meet our filter.

      Hope that background helps!

  • Joshua

    Hey Rhea,

    Great article and WOW that was a big dip in traffic. I too am seeing a rise in “not provided” results in my analytics and it’s really annoying. How are we suppose to give our reader what they want if we can’t see what theyre searching for?

  • Lusine

    I’m totally agree with Joshua, and thanks to Rhea for this post :)