Keyword (not provided) Analytics Issue
If you regularly check your analytics (whether it's AWStats or Google Analytics), you may have noticed a problem... instead of getting the query your website visitor googled to reach you, you got something like this:
What you are seeing is a blocked search query. The person that googled the unprovided keyword was logged into their Google Account, so the query they searched was hidden. You will still be able to see search queries from people who aren't logged into Google products. However, the number of people logged in is steadily rising, as you can see in the picture below.
This is our web traffic from (not provided) keywords on a monthly basis from September 2011 until now. The traffic from the blocked queries has been steadily rising, and is making it more difficult to track just how people are reaching our site.
Why Google Blocks Queries
There is always someone raising a fuss about Google's privacy, and this is one way that Google is responding to those objections. Before October of 2011, when users searched a query through Google, webmasters could track it in their Analytics accounts.
This is a problem for people actively keeping track of their analytics, who are trying to find ways to better optimize their websites. If you don't look at your website analytics, the (not provided) keywords aren't going to be an issue for you.
One way to get around the keyword (not provided) issue is to set up a Google AdWords account and run a PPC campaign. As Google+ grows and more people stay signed into their Google Accounts, your (not provided) keywords are going to grow even more, so we recommend a PPC advertising campaign, to better understand how users are getting to your site through Google. Search terms can be pulled from Google AdWords reports.
How Smart Solutions Feels About (not provided) Keywords
Obviously, we aren't excited about the Analytics change. It makes it extremely difficult to report how organic search visitors are reaching our clients' websites. However, it's nice to know that Google is working on its user privacy on the other side of the spectrum.
So don't be worried when you start to see (not provided) keywords show up in your analytics! It's not a reason to stop your SEO campaigns or to quit checking your analytics, it's just a way that Google is rewarding their signed-in users, by making their search a little more secure.