What were they searching for? We’ll never know.

As it’s the end of the month, a lot of you will be looking at your Google Analytics reports, and you may see something new: the term “(not provided)” in the “keyword” column of incoming traffic from search engines. What is this, and what does it mean? Well, Google has taken the step of encrypting searches from its users who are signed into a Google Account. In other words, for a certain group of people, information about what they were searching for is no longer sent to us as website operators. There’s a dull announcement about it here and way too much equally tedious discussion by search engine consultants, all over the web, about the implications of the move. Suffice to say that the “keyword” information you’re getting from Google is now only going to be from a sample of users, and we just have to hope it’s a representative sample. I guess we never had any right to expect this information, but it’s a shame to lose it.

2 thoughts on “What were they searching for? We’ll never know.”

  1. It sure is a shame to lose it but I’m more concerned about the Cookie change that happened this year and the “enforcing” of it next year, it could effectively kill Analytics – Mind you Analytics is banned in Germany but people still use it.

    Services such as Wordtracker have managed to survive with sample data so it might not be too bad. As with everyone else, I wish they were not doing this but we must respect peoples privacy. It’ll be interesting to see how it will change over the next couple of years.

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