This month, we did some analysis at Click Rain and discovered an alarming Google Analytics issue: organic search "(not provided)" is on the rise—and it looks as though it will not stop.
Last December, Click Rain wrote an article on this growing number as Google decided to keep searches hidden from Analytics, and how we could get around it.
We can still get around it, but Google appears to have made some updates to organic search that has made "(not provided)" increase rapidly.
This means that it is becoming harder to truly understand what people searched for to land on your site. Instead of providing full keyword(s), Google takes that information and groups it into the "(not provided)" section.
Since December, we watched the trend of data show these numbers gradually increase, but lately it has become very rapid. The timing seems to indicate a significant jump in Google’s secure search around the end of July. In some cases, we have seen a 53% increase (or higher) in the "not provided" section from less than two months ago.
We did some checking to see why this number has grown.
From our tests, it appears that Google will redirect anyone who goes to Google.com to the secure Google search version of the website, even if they are not logged into Gmail or some other Google service.
The only browser that didn’t do this was Windows Safari. We tested the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer 10, and Safari—and all attempts redirected us to the "https" secure version of Google.
After discovering this, we were quite surprised to have any organic keywords in Google Analytics reported. This discovery does not explain why this is happening, but does give reason as to how this number has increased significantly.
Eventually, this could result in all Google searches filed under "(not provided)" as it continues to rise, but currently it is all the more reason to pay attention to which keywords bring in visitors while the data is still there.
As always, here at Click Rain we will continue to find ways to work around this trend and to understand what brings visitors to your site.