Those of you using Google Analytics to track your website activity have probably noticed a dramatic rise in the number of keywords listed as (not provided). Keyword (not provided) occurs when a person performs a Google search while logged in to one of their Google accounts. That means when someone is logged in to any Google product – Gmail, Google AdWords, Google+, Google Analytics, etc. – and they do a search, the keyword they use will be encrypted by Google. In Google Analytics, it will show as (not provided).
According to Google, they have made the change to encrypted keyword data to protect the privacy of their users. Of course the keywords used by visitors clicking on paid ads is not encrypted. Protecting user privacy is important, but hiding the keyword used to find a web page makes life pretty difficult for webmasters, marketers, and business owners. Before Google made this change, you could view the exact keyword used by someone to find a page on your website and then improve the quality of your content based on the keyword.
Look at the growth in (not provided) searches to one website we track:
As you can see in the screenshot above, the number of encrypted visits is on the rise. The opportunity to use visitor keyword data to improve your site’s content has declined significantly – and will continue to decline as more and more people use Google’s (often free) products.
One takeaways is to do as much with this data as you can because you’re not going to have nearly as much of it in the future.