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“Not Provided”: Google Changes Search


December 18, 2013

A few years ago, Google began giving users the option not to track their search history for privacy reasons.  If you were searching on Google and didn’t want to let the tracking data know how you got there, what words you searched, and your behavior on those websites, you would show up as a “not provided” number in analytics.  This used to be a small percentage, rarely over 5% when Google rolled it out.  With recent updates, soon all data will be “not provided” for analytics.  Currently, the average site is over 50% and many e-retailers are already at 100%.  The current SERP (Search Engine Results Page) has the option to show your private results or to hide it within the page.

What does this mean?

Losing “not provided” data forces a tactic shift in SEO.  The organic search history is available to you through AdWords if you are actively advertising.  We can grab the keyword data from that report when possible.  If you are not utilizing AdWords, then analytics and research needs to change for SEO.

With more than 50% of traffic taken from analytics data, we need to get creative and brainstorm new solutions.  Google’s algorithm is always updating, from small updates every day to larger, hand-picked updates including Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird.

Search engine marketers need to be on top of these updates in order to understand and predict how to alter strategies.   Based on past updates, we know Google is looking for relevant links and quality content.  Essentially, your focus should shift from link building to content building.