The meaning behind Google Analytic’s “not set”

As web developers, we’re big fans of Google Analytics. We always encourage our clients to use it because of the insight it gives them into how people arrive at their site and how they interact with it once they are there.  And with so many clients using Analytics, we often get asked questions on how to make the most of the information it provides. One of the most common questions we are asked is why some of the keyword data shows up as “not set.”

"Not Set" in Google Analytics

The term “not set” appears in the Traffic section of Google Analytics. It isn’t that Google is hiding keyword searches from you (as it does with “not provided”) it actually indicates the number of users who have arrived to a site without searching a keyword. This includes people who have directly gone to your site or found you through a referral site.

While some people may find it frustrating that “not set” replaces a keyword on their list, the statistic itself can be very useful.  If “not set” does appear in your top ten keywords, this means that your visitors are commonly using other methods of getting to your site instead of searches. If you promote your website heavily or have many referral sites, this may be an indication that your other efforts are working.

On the other hand, it may also indicate that your SEO needs to be improved.  Have a look at the traffic that other keywords are generating to see if your SEO is in fact bringing in enough visitors. If not, check out our blog post on SEO tips to see how you can make the most of your search engine optimisation campaign.

To really understand the “not set” number, we recommend you analyse the direct and referral traffic information that is found elsewhere in Analytics. This will help you figure out where the “not set” visitors are coming from and determine if this is because of good external links, people typing in your URL or a combination of the two.

For more information about how we can help you improve your web presence, please contact our digital agency today.