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How Google Keyword ‘(Not Provided)’ Affects Auto Dealer Analytics

By February 27, 2014 January 9th, 2017 No Comments
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google secure search

Google’s secure search

Since late 2011, Google has been redirecting a growing number of users to a secure page for their search activity ( These specific searches appear as the keyword “(not provided)” on analytics reports. As a result, all search referring data traditional analytics tools used to understand which keywords drove visitors from Google are blocked.

As soon as Google’s secure search became more and more popular, many marketers saw a percentage of their keyword data in Google Analytics fall into a “(not provided)” category. Previously, a searcher needed to log into his or her Google account in order to yield the keyword “(not provided)”. But Google wanted to provide its users privacy, so this meant that referring keyword data was no longer being fully displayed in analytics. Google took this one step further so that when any user goes to Google to search, they are automatically redirected to the secure version of Google.

Searched-Keywords-ScreenshotThe percentage of organic search keyword traffic coming from keywords that were “(not provided)” has grown steadily. Take, for instance, the example of “abc dealer”. About 77 percent of website visits came from the keyword “(not provided)”, resulting in missing Google keyword data.

So what does the loss of keyword data mean for car dealers?

  • Organic traffic from Google can’t be tracked at a keyword level via analytics.
  • Limited amount of keyword referral data available in Google Webmaster Tools.
  • Decrease in visibility for new keyword opportunities based on analytics data.

SEO professionals have used a combination of ranking, traffic, and conversion metrics as the primary Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure performance.

Available Metrics: Overall Organic Search Traffic By Engine; Total Conversions from Organic Traffic / By URL; Search Rankings for Critical Terms; Search Rankings by Page Tags / Types; Search Rankings by Keyword Tag

Unavailable Metrics: Year-Over-Year Brand / Non-Brand Total SEO Traffic; Year-Over-Year SEO Traffic by Keyword Tag; Conversions by Keyword / Keyword Tag; Keyword Traffic Patterns by URL; Long-Tail Keyword Traffic Patterns

So how should the auto industry handle these keyword data changes so that analytics can be more accurately reported? More emphasis will be placed on PPC impression data, which will be the most accurate source of information to identify opportunity, but what KPI set should be used as the primary measure of SEO success?

Total Organic Search Visitors

Primary metric which shows if your traffic went up or down compared to a previous time period.

URL Level Traffic

Shows you what pages that traffic lands on and tells you if you are making positive or negative changes.

Use Webmaster Tools

Keyword referral data is available here, and it gives you impression versus click data, providing visibility into the keywords people are using and where your site got an impression in the search results.

Search Rankings

Check rankings for keywords that have historically driven traffic to your site and carefully track which URLs are ranking for which keywords in order to correlate ranking changes to traffic changes.

Use Google AdWords

AdWords impression data can be used in conjunction with Google Keyword Planner data to identify new keyword opportunities.

Look at Non-Google Keyword Data

While Bing and Yahoo don’t provide nearly the amount of traffic that Google does, insights can be made about the keywords that are driving traffic to your site, particularly at the URL level.

Look at Historical Data and Trends

By researching historical trends for the URLs that are being reported on, you can get a better idea of the keywords that have historically driven traffic and whether those keywords were primarily brand or non-brand keywords.

Google Trends

Google Trends can give you insights into what is trending and, therefore, what is bringing you traffic.


Dealerships can quickly and effectively respond to negative changes, prioritize resources and accurately report performance to other team members by understanding and identifying SEO performance changes. In the absence of keyword analytics data, new metrics need to be prioritized. While the new metrics aren’t as accurate as keyword level data, they provide a solid alternative to understanding SEO performance.