Withheld search terms continue to rise

Posted on November 17, 2012


The number of search terms being withheld by Google is continuing to rise, it has been revealed in a new study. The findings show that nearly two-fifths of all site traffic directed lacks this important piece of information.

It is a year since Google started to encrypt the searches of signed-in users, and there have been many search marketers and SEO analysts left frustrated by the changes. The result that so many search terms are not being disclosed will not necessarily come as a huge surprise though.

The study, carried out by B2B marketing software company Optify, studied the analytical fortunes of 424 web sites over an 11 month period. It looked at more than 17 million visits and 7.2 million referring keywords.

The study concluded that 39 percent of all directing terms were being withheld.

Instead, Google Analytics is showing its account holders ‘Not Provided’, in place of the referring phrases and keywords. A similar moniker when the data is not retrievable is used by other analytical platforms.

Whilst the average levelled at 39 percent, many businesses are seeing varying fortunes. Another conclusion the study reached included that 64 percent of the firms studied saw between 30 and 50 percent of their search term results not disclosed.

Whilst many marketers will simply determine that greater and better analysis of the information being returned is needed, many others could see a future issue.

For example, there is already talk that Google could be setting itself to charge for access to such data.


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