Wednesday, 19 February 2014

‘Not Set’ and ‘Not Provided’ are Most Confusing Identifiers in Google Analytics

In this post I explain the difference between "not set" and "not provided" in Google Analytics.
Not Set:
The ‘keyword’ (not set) simply identifies traffic that doesn’t arrive via a particular keyword and hence may not come via any search at all. This includes traffic coming from email, referral sites, or even things like Google Images. The latter might be confusing, but it helps to know that visitors coming from Google Images and Google Maps are classified under referrals with the source, not organic search. Because keywords are automatically set for search traffic, the (not set) keyword will never appear in your organic Search reports, so it is likely something you won’t have to worry about. Don’t consider this one in light of keyword performance!

In Simple Words - ‘not set’ means that the user didn’t come to your site through a keyword. They came to your site directly or through a referral site.

Not Provided:
Keywords are organic searches from Google but are being hidden from your website since Google is encrypting searches from users (secure searches from users who are logged in to their Google Accounts or otherwise using the secure version of Google.

Simply Say - any keywords searched organically by users who are logged into their Google Accounts (Gmail, Calendar, Apps, etc) will show up in your Analytics reports as (not provided).

Why is Google doing this? Google cites security and privacy reasons for hiding this data.

Firefox Adding to The Problem: The most recent Firefox browser update includes encryption of all Google searches by default, regardless if the user is signed in or not. This occurred in late July 2012 and has caused “Not Provided” numbers to increase.

What this means for you: On average we are seeing approximately 25% (and as high as 50%) of the search term data being hidden in the Not Provided keyword category. This makes year over year keyword analysis difficult as the data will obviously be skewed. This also makes casual keyword research using current data inaccurate.

Just keep in mind:
(Not Set) = Not Search Engine, Referrals and Direct links
(Not Provided) = Protected by Google encryption

I welcome your insight and expertise in the comments, because I am honestly stumped on these issues.
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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

New Google Update "Top Heavy Algorithm" has been Launched in Feb - 2014


Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, announced that Google has released a refresh of its Page Layout Algorithm. The filter, also known as the Top Heavy algorithm, downgrades the ranking of a web page with too many ads at the top or if the ads are deemed too distracting for users.

This would be the third confirmed update to the Top Heavy algorithm, with the full release schedule as follows:
  • Top Heavy 1: Jan. 19, 2012 (impacted less than 1% of English searches)
  • Top Heavy 2: Oct. 9, 2012 (impacted 0.7% of English searches)
Background On & Recovering From Top Heavy
What is the page layout algorithm? As we quoted from Google originally:
We’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away.

So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change. If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience.

Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.

See also our original article for when Top Heavy was first released, for advice about how a site that’s caught may have to wait until the next release for any changes it’s made to restore rankings.

We have not seen many complaints within the SEO community around February 6th or 7th about any update like this, which suggests it impacted fewer sites than when Google updates other filters like the Panda or Penguin algorithms.

Cutts said the algorithm was refreshed last Thursday, February 6. Here’s his tweet:
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