Google Promises Changes With Not Provided


Google SSLDanny Sullivan has the long article at Search Engine Land titled Google Reviewing "Not Provided," Withholding Keywords From Organic But Not Paid Search Clicks.

In short, Google's Amit Singhal told Danny Sullivan at SMX West Tuesday night that they understand the concerns around [not provided] and they are going to have something to announce in the upcoming weeks. That is all Amit said but there is a ton of speculation around what that means.

As you know, Google's organic keyword data delivery is close to 100% not provided because of the secure search switch over and how Google decided to handle it.

Here are some tweets from Matt Cutts that sheds more light:

Based on those tweets, it doesn't look like not provided is going away. He said searchers are happy with it. He also said the hint is around how Google will deal with ads.

A WebmasterWorld thread has people asking what will Google be doing? Here are some of the rumors:

(1) Google will pass full details of organic keywords via Google Webmaster Tools

(2) Google will pass the query referrer data to sites that are SSL enabled.

(3) Google will also block ads from passing query data.

(4) Google will bring back query data the way it was years ago.

(5) Google misspoke and isn't doing anything.

What will happen? Based on Matt's tweets, I suspect nothing is changing on the organic side, that it has to do with how Google handles ads. But your guess is as good as mine but expect some news from Google in the upcoming weeks.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Previous story: Google: We're Not Launching Those Huge Banner Ads In Our Search Results


Gareth Mailer

03/13/2014 01:31 pm

Of those, I'd say they will go the Yahoo/Bing (conventional) route of passing the referrer for SSL to SSL...

Mike Gracen

03/13/2014 01:39 pm

GA Premium or no KW data for you!

Josh Zehtabchi

03/13/2014 03:33 pm

A change to make it 100% NA?

Durant Imboden

03/13/2014 04:25 pm

Today, AJ Kohn posted an item on Google+ that's worth noting: "In this instance it was a litigious user who filed a claim that would cover, if I'm reading it right, anyone who performed as search since approximately 2006 up until the file date of October 2010 (a full year before encryption of queries began). Google fought this suit but essentially lost. The writing was on the wall. If they didn't encrypt the searches they'd remain open to legal action." If AJ Kohn is correct, Google may not be able to roll back the clock to the degree that many SEOs and publishers would like. Here's a link to the lawsuit filing:


03/13/2014 04:31 pm

Very interesting! I suspect they will continue to enhance GWMT so it's very good for getting keyword data. We've found it useful and wouldn't want to return to unsecured search. There's no way they will lose secured search or pass referral information, I think it's a question of privacy. If they do go SSL > SSL, then I suspect in a few years time 99% of websites will be on SSL. An interesting thought.

Chipper Nicodemus

03/13/2014 11:08 pm

I don't think we will see (not provided) % decrease. I agree with @tudoradam:disqus about enhancing WMT. Like Matt said Google is comfortable w/ (not provided).

Tom Zs

03/25/2014 11:14 am

Agree with Chipper, don't think they will change it. Google tries to force webmasters creating natural and useful content for the users instead of articles based on keywords and keyword groups.

Brian Keith

03/26/2014 11:44 am

For the reasonable price of $150,000/year. ..!..

Mavis Flixar Ohrum

03/28/2014 07:34 pm

heres a tip im using for my local biz its called day-parting. we saved a lot of money but scheduling our ads to appear during only business hours of the day. I guess theres a report (under the dimensions tab if I remember correctly) that allows you to analyze CPC and cost per conversion by hour of the day so you can just advertise during peak hours. We actually started a process of increasing our bids during those peak hours to push out our competitors during that time and we ended up reducing overall costs by doing this as well since its more targeted. Im actually having my friend simon manage our adwords account, if you want to speak with him just email him at or 615-603-3551. Tell him your friends with Mavis Flixar Ohrum.

Allan Stewart

03/29/2014 09:04 pm

I wonder if they will announce this at the adwords reveal session on the 22nd


04/01/2014 08:35 am

I doubt they'd choose option 3 - block ads from passing search query data. Doing so would reduce the ability of advertisers to optimise their AdWords campaigns, add negative keywords etc. Over time, without such data, the ROI of keywords will reduce, bids will fall, and Google's revenues will plummet as a result. Most AdWords changes have been to provide advertisers with more data, rather than less.

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