What Does Google Mean… “Not Provided”

Like most web based services, Google is giving less and less for free these days (most online newspapers now require a nominal fee if you want to keep reading them).

Software companies and drug dealers may not have invented the “first uses are free” concept but they sure have helped to perfect it. Angry Birds has taken “free for now” to a whole new level, the “game” is free but only a couple of tiny levels and then you then must buy as opposed to earn your way through any further levels. In accordance with this trend and under the guise of security (as SSL or Secure Socket Layer is less likely to be snooped upon as it encrypts transmissions between server and client or a website and you), Google has been withholding search data on signed in users.

The big brains at Google are weaning us off of full transparency in reporting on their site activities, especially key search phrase data when someone is logged into Google. For instance, let’s say you broke to the considerable pressure to fill out a Google+ Page or used Gmail and did not sign out, all your search keywords and referrer data will not be passed on to the websites you visit with Analytics (this does not change the way people search or important keyword targets). The “not provided” row shows an aggregated number not representing a certain secret key phrase but all searches entered by logged in individuals. Your most effective keywords will still appear, although a certain percentage of them are hidden. The amount of logged in individuals is growing all the time and Google has been saying single digit percentages of search data are “masked” now. It should be noted that many disagree about the amount of data that is kept from us.

Typical masked data before and after secure search.

Get Your Own Data or Join Adwords

Industry insiders theorize that Google is attempting to encumber third-party software companies and search engine optimization companies that utilize Google keyword data. Many others are pretty sure it’s a move to get more marketers to sign up for Adwords since keyword data obtained through Google’s paid placement isn’t concealed. SEO has always been the bane of Adwords, the better your organic or natural placement is, the less one needs to rely on Adwords. Now more than ever a company must rely on a seasoned SEO professional, keyboard discovery and Adwords, to help set viable targets for SEO.

Author: Jeff Cyr- Search-Social-PR Specialist
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