In October, Google announced they were going to start encrypting search results for anyone logged into their Google account. This means that their search queries won’t show up in analytics as they have in the past, but instead are now displayed as Google Analytics Keyword (not provided). This has created a huge hole in a lot of internet marketing data.
Google initially said it would affect no more than 10% of analytics data, but seems to be affecting a lot more than that. 27.9% of searches for www.valeomarketing.com are shown as “(not provided)” and 31.1% of searches for one of our clients. As Google+ grows (now at 60 million users and expected to be at 400 million by the end of the year), the problem is only going to get worse.
That being said, if you are willing to pay for it, Google will still give you the information. There is no way to see what percent of searchers ended up on your site like in Google Analytics, but it doesn’t compromise the data displayed in the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.
Google Webmaster Tools – Webmaster Tools will still provide you with the top queries driving searchers to your site. It’s much more of a pain, but you can cross-reference that data with the analytics data to see which searches are being categorized under (not provided). Read this post for the full explanation.
Basically, you can cross reference the number of clicks displayed in Google Webmaster Tools with the number of clicks displayed in analytics and recover the majority of the lost data. The problem arises that once you get to analyzing long-tail keywords (specifically those for which your site is getting less than 10 clicks/month), the data is a little fuzzy and doesn’t match up between the two services.
If (not provided) is only affecting around 10% of the analytics, it probably isn’t worth the time to go in and do all the analysis to see what isn’t showing up. It’s reasonably safe to assume that the 90% of data you have is representative enough of 100% of the clicks.
However, if you’re getting something more like 40% of the data showing up as (not provided) AND it’s a high traffic site (meaning a fair amount of queries are going to get 10 or more clicks), it’s likely worth your time to take a look in Google’s Webmaster Tools and see what data is being hidden by Google Analytics Keyword (not provided).