(Not Provided) and the End of Keyword Data
If you’re a regular Google Analytics tool user, you’ll be familiar with the very unhelpful (not provided) place holder you often get when looking for keyword data. The (not provided) placeholder came into being on 18th October 2011 when Google announced that going forward, any search made on a SECURE Google webpage (an encrypted page), would not be passed onto the destination website…meaning the keyword would not be recorded. Instead, any searches made whilst on a secure webpage, would be grouped together under the Google Analytics ‘keyword’ (not provided). That means, if you’re logged into your Google account, performing a search, your search won’t be recorded. Nice and secure, right? Not if you’re a webmaster trying to figure out the keywords people use to find your site.
Last month, Google upped the ante on returning (not provided) keyword data, meaning that even MORE searches are encrypted, making measuring via ‘keyword’ almost redundant. The reason? Money. Google will still provide keyword data but only for those that need to use it to aid their PAID Google ads. It’s not for the ‘privacy’ that Google declares is the reason. After all, how private is something really when you make it available to anyone who will pay?
Problems to the loss of keyword data:
- With less data to analyse, how do you inform future SEO campaigns?
- How will you spot trends in keyword data?
- If your organic traffic suddenly goes up, how will you know which keywords it is attributed to?
- It will be hard to figure out long-tail keyword variations that refer traffic
- You will likely need to spend more time and more money on analysing a variety of channels to help interpret results
Workarounds to the (not provided) problem:
- Begin looking into third-party tools to track growth: Searchmetrics, SEMRush, Kissmetrics, etc
- Use ‘rank tracking’ software to monitor website success
- Use the Not Provided Kit by Dan Barker
- Invest more in paid search if you want to measure how certain keywords are performing (this is LIKELY the action Google would like you to take)
- Use Bing or Yahoo data to inform decisions (though the volume of data is much less than Google had)
- Analyse performance per page instead of per keyword
- Make use of Google’s organic v. paid search report
Where should you go from here?
If you’d like to find out more about how Xanthos is responding to the loss of keyword data, get in touch. We’ll be happy to speak with you and to offer workaround solutions that best suit your needs. Don’t forget to read our post on the end of the keyword tool too!