How to deal with the (Not Provided) problem, What SEO experts are recommending

This article was updated on August 6th, 2020 at 05:58 am

“Not Provided” for “Extra Protection”!

not-provided-googleIn one of the recent Google’s drastic changes, 100% organic search keywords data is now “Not Provided” which means the webmasters remain petrified with no clue on which keywords lead the traffic to their site. Google had earlier announced secure search being introduced for those who are signed-in in 2010 stressing on the importance of securing the personalized search results.

But on September 23, 2013 the company has encrypted all the search results leading to 100% organic keywords being “Not Provided”. Google has now made secure search default for everyone even for those you are not signed in. Google also confirmed this and the statement is out on Search Engine Land- “We added SSL encryption for our signed-in search users in 2011, as well as searches from the Chrome omnibox this year. We’re now working to bring extra protection to more users who are not signed-in”.

Why Google did this is still a sign of mystery as many believe, a plain reasoning of protecting users privacy is not convincible as the Adwords keyword data is an exception still being provided to the advertisers.

Here’s what Barry Schwartz writes- “I guess Google felt, what the heck, 70% of search queries were not provided anyway, let’s go all in! Screw online marketers. Screw webmasters. Screw SEOs. Take away their real search queries. Make them depend on getting that data from Google Webmaster Tools, which is far from a complete picture of your data.”

Social media is being flooded with updates by people who doesn’t look too happy (well nobody is). Here are a couple of tweets that want to spit some fire on Google!

Annoying how in Google Analytics that when a person is searching Google via HTTPS the keyword is reported as “not provided.” Great insight!

— Cory Rogers (@corydonrogers) September 26, 2013

— John Joyce (@johnmjoyce)

As Lee Odden writes- “For many SEOs, this sort of change might feel like a betrayal of the symbiotic relationship Google has had with website owners where Google makes copies of website content and then organizes it into search results so they can then run ads next to it.  In return, Google provides various services and access to data for free – like organic search keywords data. Not any more.”

While some of them had already foreseen this coming where in the near future it would be 100% Not Provided for keywords. Rob Ousbey had to say this in August 2012 which has now become the truth- “Within 12-18 months, I wouldn’t be surprised to see most sites with 90% of their Google traffic being ‘Not Provided’ and it could be 100% for some. Indeed, Google could turn all this data off overnight, at anytime, if they wanted to”.

After all this problem being discussed, hyped and done with a lot of acquisitions, webmasters and site owners are now trying to get over this realising the fact that they have to leave with this shortcoming and survive their online business.

Rand Fishkin in his whiteboard Tuesday discusses some ways to find the data by other means. One of the many tips he suggests is – “Pages receiving search visits plus rank-tracking data can get us a little close to this, because we can essentially say, “hey, we know this page is ranking well for these five or ten keywords that we have some reasonable expectation that they have keyword search volume”.

Avinash Kaushik tips on dealing with Not Provided and gives five point clues on overcoming this situation and here’s one among them- “One final idea I had was to wonder if the (not provided) traffic enters the website at a disproportionate rate on some landing pages when compared to all other traffic from Google. If that is the case we could do pre post analysis on referring keywords to those landing pages and get additional clues”.

Since the problem of ‘Not Provided’ has arised, many solutions will keep creeping some effective and some mere crap.  Whatever be it, one thing’s for sure, the webmasters and SEOs can never be able to get clear keyword data and will definitely take some time for everybody to get used to this menace.

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