If you frequently, or even occasionally, use Google Analytics to monitor, assess and analyze your website traffic, you have likely noticed a new phrase in the key words section recently. (If you are not currently using Google Analytics to better understand your website traffic, you absolutely should be. It is a free tool, takes 10 minutes to install on your website, and provides a wealth of valuable information.)
The new term: (not provided)
Where you will see it: In the keywords section, likely representing at least 10 percent of search traffic.
What it means: The keyword section in Google Analytics provides insight regarding which keywords consumers are searching that lead them to your website. The appearance of the term (not provided) represents a certain percentage of keyword searches that Google is no longer providing data for.
Why: In October 2011, Google announced the decision to encrypt keyword searches by logged in Google users to make them private. Essentially, any visitor that reaches your site through a keyword search while logged into Google will be categorized under the new (not provided) category. Google originally predicted this would only impact 10 percent or less of searches. However, several months into the program, many website owners are reporting double-digit percentages.
The Exception: Whether a user is logged into Google or not, Google Analytics WILL deliver information on keyword searches leading to your website on one condition: if the user reaches your website by way of paid search. So if a consumer searches for a key word and accesses your site via a paid Google ad, you WILL still be able to assess key words driving paid traffic.