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A Glimpse into the Black Hole of the “Not Provided” Keyword Segment

I think we have all started living in fear when Google Analytics introduced the “Not Provided” keyword segment. This still could be the end of keyword data as we know it. As Google+ gains legs the “not provided” segment continues to grow. Not cool!

The thing that trips me up is that this segment is included in the filtered results when I start segmenting the data. When I pull Google Analytics reports for non-branded keyword visits, the holy-grail stat that SEO’s are graded on, the not-provided segment appears. In theory, if a bunch of branded keywords live in that segment, and non-branded keywords traffic shows heavy gains for that month, the results can be skewed.

Well, this month I saw a glimpse of insight in that dark hole in our analytics accounts. Now, this is theory and I am very interested to get your opinion.

Comparing June 2012 to July 2012

Below we can see an 18% decline on branded search terms. I have filtered the organic traffic segment of Google Analytics using the client’s name.



When looking at the non-branded keyword traffic we see a 3.29% gain, comparing June to July 2012 (Yeah Me! Hey, it’s a small gain but when numbers go up it’s a good thing!)


Now, when looking at the (not provided) segment and comparing June to July we see a decline of 2.18%

This leads me to believe that inside that no provided segment the majority is non-branded keywords. Eureka?!?!?!?!

Another data point to keep in mind is the volume of branded vs. non branded search terms.  We have 1,114 branded visitors in compare to 848 non-branded visitors in the month of July. So, if we know that the majority of search traffic is branded, and branded traffic took a 18% hit, shouldn’t the not provided segment have taken a larger hit? Let’s say 10%+ and not the small 2.18% hit that the data supports?

Is this true for every case? Who knows, but the key takeaway from this is to compare the gains/losses of your branded keyword traffic against the (not provided) segment to gain insight into that black hole that was brought upon us by Google’s privacy policy.


Category SEO
Gabriel Gervelis Gervelis Search Marketing

Gabriel Gervelis is the owner of Gervelis Search Marketing. You can find him on Twitter – @seo_pro,

A Glimpse into the Black Hole of the “Not Provided” Keyword Segment

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