Numbers after a month of 'not provided' keywords

Update November 18th

This is the third and last update I'm going to do by now.
Not a surprise, all numbers are growing fast. Maybe another update in some months ahead to see if this stops here and how bad it gets.

  • Highest percentage seen is 15.94%
  • Lowest percentage 1.69%
  • Average 9.35%


  • 50% of sites are above 10% of non provided keywords
  • 30% of sites are between 5% and 10%
  • 20% of sites are below 5%

At this point it is clear that, thanks to Google, we have lost a big chunk of relevant information. Thanks guys!.

In any case, I'll stand by what I said from the very beginning: no crying, just move ahead. Take it or leave it. This is who SEO works.

The only thing that pisses me off is Google treating us as toddlers. Take a look at Accessing search query data for your sites and how they pretend to mislead us:

Webmasters can still access a wealth of search query data for their sites via Webmaster Tools.

Users of Google Analytics’ Search Engine Optimization reports have access to the same search query data available in Webmaster Tools and can take advantage of its rich reporting capabilities.

Are you kidding me? Any rookie Analytics / WMT user knows it is not possible to compare this data with other metrics like Conversion Rate or Revenue, for example, so it is pretty much useless.

More advanced Google Analytics users, the ones pulling data from API, know "Search Engine Optimization" section in GA is not accesible via API. Useless again.

Dear Google, it is your company / data / game, you can do whatever you want with the only restriction of law but pay some respect to your clients.

Not provided organic keywords

Update November 3rd

As mentioned down the article, here you have the first update. Let's see how this goes:

  • Highest percentage seen is 9.17%
  • Lowest percentage 0.72%
  • Average 5.01%

Yes amigos, amount of visits from organic traffic with not provided keyword is raising pretty fast as anyone could guess. From 0.82% average the first 4 days after announcement to 5.01% average we have now after 16 days.

Percentage Distribution of missed keywords

  • 43.5% of the sites are over 6% of 'non provided'
  • 26.0% are between 4% and 6%
  • 30.5% are below 4%

True that 5% average is far from the 10% some out there are mentioning but it is also certain that more and more sites are closer to that 10% what indicates the thing is getting worst quickly.

Checking number for those 23 sites I noticed (not provided) is now appearing at the top 5 keywords for most of them as the sum of keywords not informed is higher than the rest.

Not nice, on the contrary. Time to find another job? :D

Not provided organic keywords

Last Tuesday, October 18th, Google made an announcement and Armageddon came to SEO world (again). Signed-in users are routed to the SSL version of Google "as part of our commitment to provide a more secure online experience" they said.

This means some of the visits from organic traffic are not including our beloved keywords. Instead you can see reported a flaccid "(not provided)".

Ok, stop lamenting for a while, wipe your tears and let's see how much should we worry about.

I've checked organic traffic at 23 sites from Oct. 18th, first day when "not provided" appeared, till 21st. Not thousands of sites (disclaimer: it is Saturday and I should be having beers instead of digging data for you) but enough to bring some light. Here you have them:

  • Highest percentage observed is 1.75%
  • Lowest percentage 0.18%
  • Average 0.82%

Google Hides Search Referral Data

How does this affect sites?

  • Only 35% of sites are above 1.0% of non provided keywords
  • 40% of sites are between 0.5% and 1.0%
  • 25% of sites are below 0.5%

I agree this adds a bit of inaccuracy to our work, nothing new as you may know if you are a SEO consultant. Are we going to cry in rage for some 0.8%-ish? Not me.

'Devastating effects' as some alarmists named it? Not at all by now. Although Google said that change will be rolling out over the next few weeks it is already there (seems a small proportion), otherwhise we would not be able to see those numbers.

I'll keep an eye on numbers and update this post over the weeks to evaluate how it goes.

Reasons for killing organic referral data: privacy? anti-competitive move? To be honest, when it falls to daily basis SEO work, I don't care at all. We are here to increase client’s revenue from organic traffic and Search Engines manage their business the way they want with the only limit of law. Are they hypocrites? No more or less than anybody else working for money.

Nov 18, 2011
Written by:
Filed under: SEO

Nov 03, 2011
Posted by:
pere rovira #1

great data and great last paragraph. to those who accuse google of hypocracy, i recommend withdrawing all money from non ethical banks. fighting for referral data seems like the lowest form of activism, with all due respect ;)

that said, we'll have to keep an eye on how the data evolves. and i wouldn't be surprise if google make additional moves that will help us understand the referral data issue.

Nov 03, 2011
Posted by:
Ani Lopez #2

Thanks Pere for your kind words.
Something that appreciate more than your immeasurable analytics knowledge is your sense of (gallows) humor.

Nov 04, 2011
Posted by:
Jackson Lo #3

Great analysis here Ani! Any insight into the % of conversions that are in the `not provided`pool vs organic keywords that show up in GA?

Nov 04, 2011
Posted by:
Ani Lopez #4

Thanks Mr. Lo
I did no further investigation on conversions from not provided. Busy working now in new articles.

Nov 04, 2011
Posted by:
Gus #5

Great post Ani! Thanks for sharing.

Would you agree that (at some point) having the non-personalised results filtered out from the rest of the queries in GA could remove a bit of noise when assessing SERP's visibility?

Nov 04, 2011
Posted by:
Will #6

Thanks for sharing this data Ani. We've done some similar analysis on our sites and we're seeing the exact same thing. I'm not sure what industry your 9.7% is in but we're seeing the highest not provided rates on sites that cater to a more tech friendly crowd.

Nov 15, 2011
Posted by:
Chris #7

Yeah good points I started to whine a bit too ;-)
Just a pain when your are starting with a new site and seeing not provided, but I look at it like as long as the time on site is up then hey its traffic right! If they are on for more then a minute its good traffic and I am doing something right.....

On the other hand people are saying google will be charging for this data later. If that is the case then that is a quick way to weed out all the spammers and fly by nighters and let the people with mo money make mo money ;-)

Mar 11, 2012
Posted by:
Ani Lopez #8

@Will, interesting what you comment about what kin of indutries/websites are having higher nP %, I should take a deeper look to that.

@Chris, I don't think Google is going to charge for this data.
In the case this could happen spammers and fly by nighters sometimes have more cash or more ability to react quickly than white hat SEOs working for companies and corporations so probably it won't keep them apart.

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