Google Chrome Goes Dark
The new version of Google Chrome 25 (still in beta, at the time of writing) will use SSL to encrypt Google searches through the Omnibox (used to type URLs and search), even for users not logged in. Previous searches were only encrypted for logged in users. By doing this the keyword is no longer passed into analytics software like Google Analytics, you will instead see “(not provided)”.
More (not provided), Fewer Keywords
Since the launch of the secure search in October 2011, (not provided) has been steadily increasing. With the average generally between 20-30%, others finding it is higher at 39%. No matter the figures it is growing consistently month on month and will not be going away.
What can you do about it? There are ways to estimate or “reclaim” some ground. It is only the referrer not passing the keyword data through, so it is still aggregated in Google Webmaster Tools and Adwords. Another option is to look at other search engines, Bing and Yahoo still send full referring information through. Something very useful is to look at (not provided) and the landing page. A more advanced option is to setup filters in Google Analytics to “extract” keyword position from the referring string and append it to “(not provided)” or landing page. Although this will not give you 100% of results, it is useful.
Implications of Dark Data
- The new version of Google Chrome (25) will encrypt all search data requested via the Omnibox.
- No keyword data will be passed to your analytics software from Chrome’s Omnibox.
- It will be increasingly difficult to track search traffic by referring keyword.
- It is likely that (not provided) will continue to increase.
- Using other available data, such as Webmaster Tools, Adwords, Landing Pages and Google Analytics filters can “reclaim” or estimate some of the lost keyword data.