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Not Provided

The term "not provided" appears in tracking systems, such as Google Analytics, since Google Secure Search was introduced in October 2011. It refers to page views that are no longer provided by Google. In secure search, an input phrase is encrypted using SSL and therefore sent over a secure connection. Google considers the request as personal information and therefore keeps it hidden. The web operator will only receive the notification "not provided", even if Google itself knows the search terms.


Google considers the search terms to be personal and therefore worthy of protection. In a secure search, requests are sent over a secure SSL connection. In this way, they cannot be intercepted and read by unauthorized persons. Data protection also means that requests are not passed on to third parties, so Google no longer transmits existing data to webmasters. Instead, "not provided" will be displayed for searches made over an HTTPS connection.


The number of "not provided" keywords depends on the behavior of the visitors. A visitor who has logged into the Google search engine automatically uses the safe search and the keyword is replaced by the web operator with "not provided". Visitors with a high level of security specifically use Safe Search by visiting Google through the address "https".

Thus, keyword optimization becomes increasingly difficult because the search terms entered by users are less well known. In terms of SEO, Safe Search and "not provided" pose a challenge for webmasters.

Useful practices

Depending on the magnitude of the percentage of "not provided" keywords, routes must be used to compensate for the loss of information. In the future, the percentage will increase as Internet users are becoming more and more security conscious. Something predictable, since the loss of additional data offers the possibility of looking for alternatives and new options to collect information by other means from the beginning.

Filter in the Google Analytics search engine

Through a custom filter in the Google Analytics search engine you can get the requested URL instead of "not provided". However, these filters only work for new traffic.
In the case of a homepage URL, you probably searched for a brand keyword. You can roughly estimate what terms have been entered to get to the page.

  • A new approach, which emerged from Safe Search, is based on the reference chain. It includes hidden information that can be specifically analyzed. For this, Google Analytics uses specific filters. The ved parameter, which is included in the reference string, provides information about the vertical search, as well as the absolute and relative position of the links. The exact process for how to review the information is described in the post referral string. Furthermore, it is possible to establish in which part of the snippet the link was clicked. This in turn restricts the possible keywords.

Google Webmaster Tools

  • One way to get information about keywords is through the Google Search Console. Information about the top 1000 searches and the top 1000 landing pages on your website is stored there for the last 30 days.
  • The Google Search Console also provides a list of performance keywords. This also includes information about the click-through rate for each keyword. The approximate number of search clicks on keywords is provided. This will display important keywords.

If Google Analytics and your Google Search Console account are linked, more conclusions can be drawn. Google Analytics contains information in "Traffic sources -> SEO -> Searches". From this you can conclude what the visitors have been looking for. A combination with the data from "Traffic Sources -> Sources -> Sources -> Search -> Organic" allows a conclusion regarding the needs of visitors.


Surveys are a great way to find out how a visitor got to your website. "On-site surveys" can be configured to only appear when the visitor comes from a search engine. Qualaroo is an example of a provider. It also allows you to choose only Safe Search users. The 'on-site survey' may consist of a single question, for example, 'What term did you search for? A single question is usually answered quickly by visitors, so the feedback is quite useful. The results of this survey correspond to a part of the keywords "not provided". The information that is retained by Google may be requested from the visitors themselves.

Using on-site search

If your website has an internal search function, then it would be advisable to examine the terms entered there with Google. Visitors to your website look for similar terms that are entered by other users in search engines. They also give an impression of what site visitors expect from your website. Thus, the internal search allows to conclude the terms and phrases that users have in mind.


Another idea is based on the general ranking of requests and advanced segments from Google Analytics. Visitors are divided into different groups depending on your intention. The relative proportions of these groups are used to set the keywords "not provided".
Indirectly, it is feasible to buy a part of the data. The paid search results in the Google search engine are not affected by the consequences of Safe Search, since it does not consist of organic traffic. Keywords that precede clicks on paid links are still provided. Thus, data on paid traffic can be obtained from Google AdWords, but not data on organic traffic.
In the case of the webs, the data of the traffic sources is a good source of information. They can be found, as mentioned above, under "Traffic sources -> SEO -> Searches". They provide an overview of the organic traffic of a website. However, this data is not very detailed and is only available in limited quantities. Thus, it is not suitable for the best workable optimization, but only for an overview.

Relevance for SEO

Search queries that appear as "not provided" may pose an obstacle. Data that is no longer available limits your options for page optimization and keyword research. Keyword-based SEO measures are therefore complicated by Safe Search. The procedures outlined above can help reduce and compensate for the loss of information. In the future, the number of Safe Search users will increase steadily. Thus, it is essential test alternative forms and examine their functionality in time.

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