Google Analytics recently started reporting (not set) queries in the Google Analytics SEO reports, raising concerns that they have started hiding data. The reality is that they have never reported the full list of queries, and have just now made that fact obvious.
If you had been saving your search queries for the past year like I have, you know that the number of queries for your key phrases has not really changed much over time — just the amount you would expect from variations in search rankings and term popularity over time. There is no precipitous drop that accounts for the 60% (not set) metric now appearing in my Google Analytics report.
So where does (not set) come from? Well, if you had been tracking top query metrics and top page metrics, you may have noticed that adding up all the reported page impressions and clicks far exceeded the total of reported query impressions and clicks. About 50-70% more… So (not set) is simply Google Analytics filling what has always been a gap between the two reports.
Sum of Impressions for all Pages = 35,500
Sum of Impressions for all Queries = 14,300
Difference = 21,200 (60%) previously unaccounted for, now labelled “(not set)”
Google’s John Mueller since verified this explanation:
“In Search Analytics if you look at the numbers of the queries that you see there, you will sometimes see that we show a top aggregated, maybe a hundred queries, and in a table below if you add the numbers together, you might see 70 queries or something like that. And the difference there is essentially queries that we filter out, and in Search Console we don’t show them separately and in Google Analytics they chose to call them Not Set. So that is what you are seeing there, not something completely different, its not showing the difference that you’d have to calculate yourself if you calculated the difference yourself.”