The term “not provided” appears in tracking systems, such as Google Analytics, since the Google Secure Search was introduced in October 2011. It refers to any page views which are no longer provided by Google. In the Secure Search, an input phrase is encrypted using SSL and therefore sent via a secure connection. Google considers the request as personal information and therefore keeps it concealed. The website operator will only get the notification “not provided,” although Google itself knows the search terms.
Google considers the terms being searched personal and therefore worthy of protection. In a Secure Search, requests get sent via a secure SSL connection. Thus they cannot be intercepted and read by unauthorized persons. Data protection also means that the requests are not forwarded to third parties, which is why the existing data is no longer being forwarded by Google to webmasters. Instead, “not provided” will be displayed for searches that have been conducted over an HTTPS connection.
The number of “not provided” keywords depends on visitor behavior. A visitor who is logged into Google, automatically uses Secure Search and the keyword is replaced by the website operator with “not provided.” Visitors with a high security awareness specifically use the Secure Search by visiting Google via the “https” address.
Keyword optimization is therefore being made more and more difficult because search terms entered by users are less known. In terms of SEO, the Secure Search and “not provided” poses a challenge for webmasters.
Depending on how big the percentage of “not provided” keywords is, alternative routes must be used to compensate for the loss of information. In the future the percentage will rise because Internet users are increasingly becoming security-conscious. Something foreseeable as the loss of additional data provides the opportunity to seek alternatives and new options to collect information by other means early on.
In case of the URL for a homepage, likely a brand keyword was searched. It can be roughly estimated which terms have been entered to get to the page.
Surveys are a great way to find out how a visitor arrived to your website. “On-site surveys” can be configured so that they only appear when the visitor came from a search engine. Qualaroo is an example of a provider. It also allows you to select just Secure Search users. The “on-site survey” may consist of a single question, for example, “What term did you search”? A single question is usually quickly answered by visitors, which is why the return is quite usable. The results of such a survey corresponds to a part of the “not provided” keywords. The information that is withheld by Google can be asked for to the visitors themselves.
If your website has an internal search function, then it would be recommendable to assess the entered terms there with Google . Visitors on your website search for similar terms that get entered by other users in search engines. They also give an impression of what site visitors expect from your website. Thus, the internal search allows a conclusion concerning the terms and phrases users have in mind.
Search queries that appear as “not provided” can pose a problem. The data that is no longer available, limits the options for on-page optimization and keyword research. SEO measures that are based on keywords are therefore complicated by the Secure Search. The procedures described above can help reduce and compensate for the loss of information. In the future, the number of users of Secure Search will steadily increase. Therefore, it is important to test alternative ways and assess their functionality early.