Google SSL search and “not provided” keywords

Google made an interesting announcement on their Webmaster Central Blog back in the middle of October. The importance of this announcement has seemingly flown under the SEM radar. The announcement in summary: If a user is logged in to their Google account, their default connection will now be secure (which is good news for the user) but it presents an interesting twist for the SEM community. Before this announcement if you searched for something on Google (non – SSL) you could see both that the user came from google.com and their search query (or keyword that they used to get to your site) within Google Analytics. Now search results on Google with the new secure connection (SSL search), a web site will only know that the user came from google.com (no keyword data is tracked in Google Analytics).

The keyword data that is entered by users that are logged into their Google account with show up in analytic as “not provided”. See below

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In addition the change to SSL search also means that sites people visit after clicking on results at Google will no longer receive “referrer” data that reveals what those people searched for.
Now that we have had a few weeks to monitor ? a few observations. This initial impact was not noticeable. However once the SSL update was available to more Google users we noticed a pretty dramatic increase in the “not provided” data. See below.

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Google is reassuring the SEM community that the “not provided” results will remain in the single digits. The SEM community has traditionally relied heavily on keyword data so it will interesting to see how this plays out.

You can read much more information on this subject here at Search Engine Land.
If you are interested in seeing how many of your visitors are showing up in the “not provided” category, or if you want more information on our Search Engine Marketing program.