You must have noticed the increase in “Unknown search terms” in your stats. I’m seeing hundreds in mine and they are growing daily.
Web site owners want to know the keyword terms visitors type into Google search to locate their sites, but no more keyword data will be provided from Google.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol that provides secure communications on the Internet for such things as web browsing, e-mail, instant messaging, and other data transfers.
As of fall of 2011 analytics programs could no longer detect the keyword terms used by visitors coming from Google search, if they are logged in and have SSL enabled in their Google account. In 2012 the conversion to encrypted search expanded globally to all signed-in users then went even further to include default searching in Firefox.
In September 2013:
When searches are encrypted, search terms that are normally passed along to publishers after someone clicks on their links at Google get withheld. In Google Analytics, the actual term is replaced with a “Not Provided” notation. Post-PRISM, Google Confirms Quietly Moving To Make All Searches Secure, Except For Ad Clicks.
Google says, the reason for the switch is to provide “extra protection” for searchers. Search Engine Land, however, suspects that Google may also be attempting to block NSA spying activity. … Because Google is encrypting search activity for everything but ad clicks, most think this is a move to get more people using Google AdWords.
WordPress.com Support Documentation Update
“UPDATE: In September 2013 Google started to rapidly expand the number of searches that it encrypts, which results in a higher proportion of “Unknown search terms” in your stats. According to some sources, this expansion will eventually result in encryption of all Google searches.
This is being done for privacy reasons by Google when someone searches at Google.com, before a visitor arrives at your WordPress.com site. Therefore we don’t have any way to unhide the search terms. We recognize this means a loss of stats information for you and we will look for other ways to show you how users arrived at your site. via Stats — Support — WordPress.com.”
The bottom line is that in 2011 Google made a change aimed at encrypting all search activity — except for clicks on ads. In September 2013 Hubspot’s Pamela Vaughan reports that currently nearly 74% of search terms are being encrypted resulting in a “Not Provided” notation. — Google to Encrypt ALL Keyword Searches: Say Goodbye to Keyword Data
It’s a bummer because though it’s still possible to tell how much traffic your website is getting from organic search without the keywords, most WordPress.com bloggers are not SEO wizards, and aren’t inclined to study their Google Webmaster’s data as closely as the experts do.
But maybe it’s not something we need to wring our hands over because we know that Targeted Blog Post Titles Draw Traffic. Provided we know how to identify our blog’s target audience, understand what they need and want to know and keep it in mind when writing a blog post, we can to publish engaging posts that will increase traffic and encourage us to take our blogs to the next level.
Taking a look at your Top Posts and Pages gives you a quick, clear idea of what’s most popular. You can use this valuable data to inform future posts, but also to make sure your perennially popular content is polished and primed to turn a casual visitor into a die-hard reader. via Stats Wrangling III: Top Posts and Pages — Blog — WordPress.com.
- Stats Wrangling I: Digging in to Your Data
- Stats Wrangling II: Days, Weeks, and Months
- Ignore Your Stats
That said, I’m sure WordPress.com users are eager to know which “other ways” WordPress.com Staff will be taking to inform us what keywords were used by visitors to reach our sites.
What say you?
- Your ‘Not Provided’ Percentage In Google Analytics Is Only Going Up (webpronews.com)
- Google To Encrypt All Keyword Searches (tech.slashdot.org)
- Google Turns On Secure Search For Even Those Who Aren’t Signed Into A Google Account (webpronews.com)