Understanding Google Analytics – not provided and not set Data
Google analytics is your reliable source of tracking your website visitor. With advanced tracking available you can get hell of information about your website usage from Google Analytics.
We all understand importance of understanding web data, who is surfing what on our website. Which keyword is driving traffic to my website, which campaign is giving maximum conversion rate etc.
It’s very important to understand all your data available in Google analytics, which will help you to analyze your efforts.
However with the increase in number of “(Not Provided)” and “(Not Set)”data in Google Analytics, it is becoming more complex for SEOs to do the data analysis and drive Business Intelligence. This set of data available in Google Analytics, making it more difficult than ever to effectively analyze organic traffic.
Let us understand what exactly is “(Not Provided)” and “(Not Set)”.
Not Provided: Visits which has been tagged as “Not Provided” in Google analytics have not used “not Provided” as search term in Google analytics nor did they had used any miscellaneous word which can’t be reported in Google Analytics.
Not provided data set is visible in your organic Traffic section in Google Analytics. This data set is Key phrases which visitors have used while searching for any particular keyword in Google. This marker is a result of the Google encryption of key terms that drove traffic to your site if the searcher was a logged in Google user.( logged in Google products like Gmail, Google plus, Google maps etc).
Whenever you are logged into Google products like Gmail, Google plus etc your Google page automatically changes to https://www.google.com. Note extra “s” in http, which is nothing but SSL, which means your search is now secure. Google announced in October 2011 that they wanted to “protect personalized search results” by encrypting search terms – even though the searcher’s personally identifying data is not revealed in the Analytics– and that SSL Search would become the default search experience for those users who are logged in any Google products are using search. So while this traffic is reported as organic search traffic, you no longer get access to the query terms.
Not Set : The Google Analytics blog in 2009 said that (not set) is “any direct visit or referral visit, because it does not have a keyword, ad content or any other campaign information associated with the visit.” This problem has been attributed to faulty auto-tagging on destination URLs and gclid redirection for keywords in paid campaigns.
Like me there are millions of millions of people who use Google for their search Query and are logged into Google products at the same time. This means that you will not be able to track what search query has been used by these kind of visitors.
And these kind of search volumes are not going to decrease in future, since Google is hiring someone who will make sure that more and more people are using secured search, which will make life of people like me more worse L.
So if you will see more and more percentage of your website traffic which is set in Google analytics as “Not provided” or “Not set” don’t be surprised.
Is there a Way around?
You need to work a little harder to understand what the data within (not provided) results means and get a smarter understanding of the site’s analytics. By following these three steps, you can stay on top of the change and get the most out of your (not provided) data.
Monitor Impact - Before you begin trying to analyse what the (not provided) data actually means, set yourself up to monitor how your website is being affected and what on-going impact the change has on your reporting.
Avinash Kaushik has a great way of working this out.
Landing Page analysis – If you are not able to track key phrase, you can still refer to landing page corresponding to not set key phrase. Drive your data from analyzing your landing what are different possible combination or key phrase which can be used for reaching to these pages from search engines.
Building custom reports in Google Analytics is a quick and effective way to review the landing pages of (not provided) searches alongside other keyword search results. Setting up a report on organic searches from Google showing both keyword and landing page dimensions allows you to visually compare the user activity of (not provided) visits with that of normal visits and understand what your (not provided) visitors were looking for.
Things to consider when analyzing:
Bounce Rate – how do your (not provided) bounce rates compare with your average or that of other keywords?
% New Visits – are your (not provided) visitors mainly new or returning visitors? How does this compare with your other keywords?
Pages Per Visit – are visitors from (not provided) searches viewing more or less pages on your site than other visitors?
Time On Site – are visitors from (not provided) searches spending more or less time on site than other users?
Goal Completions & Conversion Rate – are visitors from (not provided) searches generating more conversions than other users?
Webmaster Tools : You can still get some keyword information from Webmaster tools. You can refer to search queries in Webmaster tools ans check no of impression and no of clicks for search queries and match this data with Google analytics and drive your conclusions.