Interpreting Organic Traffic in the Age of “Not Provided”

- October 7, 2013

If you regularly use Google Analytics to interpret your organic search traffic, you may have noticed a surprising change to the platform as of late – the words “not provided.”

If you haven’t seen it, “not provided” looks like this:


This is happening because Google has switched 100% of its search traffic to its secure (HTTPS) server. As a result, all of the keyword data for Google’s organic search traffic is cloaked beneath the “not provided” moniker.

This means that, while you are able to see search volume, you cannot know which keywords users searched to access which pages.

In other words, marketers now have a lot less data when it comes to analyzing how their target audience is finding them. This includes understanding which pages are “working,” organically, and which still need improvement.

What You Can Do

Luckily, there are a few workarounds that, although they may seem tedious at first, will help you and your overall SEO goals in the long run.

  1. Ensure that you have a strong site architecture. This way, you can easily identify and segment similar sections of your website to target specific persons / businesses / markets. These sections can then be much more easily analyzed as a group to see improvements within analytics platforms.
  2. Match keyphrases to specific pages on your site, and optimize them well. You will then be able to draw conclusions based on increases to your organic traffic.
  3. Once you have targeted the pages on your website to specific keyphrases, you can use a combination of rank tracking tools, including Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to correlate specific pages with the keywords that you have optimized for. This will help you to identify what words may be driving the best traffic and the most conversions.
  4. Utilize data in Google Webmaster Tools to identify words and phrases that users are searching on to find your site. You must have access to a Google Webmaster Tools account for your website in order to access this data. If you do not, the account is free to set up and you can find more information about it here‎.

What “not provided” means, as you’ve probably guessed, is that marketers will be feeling around in the dark for a while as they adapt to this change. This will take some getting used to. But there will likely come a day when the steps recommend above will be so second-nature, old SEOs will sit around and say, “hey, remember when Google used to tell us what keywords were being used to access our sites?” Ah, the good old days…

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