Getting to Grips with “Not Provided” Keyword Data in Google Analytics

Website owners who use Google Analytics generally want to see where traffic is coming from and what keywords/phrases they used. It is easy to become frustrated. Especially when we see large amounts of visits being labelled “not provided” or “not set”.

But what exactly do they mean? We will try and explain in more detail below.

“Not Provided”

Whenever we see “not provided” whilst looking at traffic, what we are actually seeing is the number of visitors to our website who were logged into their Google account and searching for information.

Google does not disclose specific keyword traffic data for anyone who is logged into one of their accounts. If we consider how many people are logged into some form of Google account (Gmail, YouTube, Google+, etc.) then it becomes easy to see why so much traffic is labelled that way.

“Not Set”

Sometimes when we view keyword traffic data in Google Analytics we see “not set” instead of or alongside “not provided”.

Google states that “not set” in our reports could mean any of the following:

  • AdWords is improperly linked or not linked to your Analytics account
  • There may be a redirect in the URL
  • URL is missing parameters
  • It was never a keyword-oriented visit

However, it has also been suggested that anyone logged into a Google account and visiting our website directly via a web browser could also be flagged in the same way too. The best way to think about “not set” traffic is that the search engine simply wasn’t able to identify the information.

“Asterisk *”

When we see an asterisk it refers to the number of visitors that have arrived at our website specifically from a paid Google shopping Ad click. These refer to the products you are displaying in Google’s Shopping/Product listings (the shopping thumbnails you see in the search results).

While this asterisk isn’t very helpful, there is a way of getting some more information. Take the following steps: Acquisition > Adwords > Matched search queries. Toggle secondary dimensions and select campaign. You will then be able to see which search queries generated traffic to your Google Shopping Ads.

If you would like to discuss how to improve your web traffic, why not contact BFI on 0845 519 4727 or email info@wearebfi.co.uk.