You cannot have failed to notice in Google Analytics that the keyword (not provided) has gradually increased over the past year. Our clients are seeing between 50-100% of keywords from Google organic search now being reported as "not provided" which is making things difficult when assessing how well SEO efforts are performing, particularly when trying to differentiate between brand and non brand traffic.
The SEO community predict that keywords from organic search will disappear completely from Google analytics within 6 months, so what does this mean from a marketing perspective?
Why keyword data is important:
Why is Google doing this?
- For finding new keyword opportunities – often keyword searches that lead to your site are something you’re not specifically targeting but it’s highly relevant to your site
- By looking at what keyword terms are driving traffic to particular page, we can look for opportunities to improve page ranking
- For understanding what visitors think your company is about eg. maybe they search for “Yourbrand surfwear” but you don’t actually sell that product, but your audience perceives that you do.
We can only guess that Google is doing this in order to make more money from it’s other products eg. Google Adwords which does still show keyword data, although interestingly Google Premium (the paid version of Google analytics) is still effected by “not provided”
What can we do about it?
Ultimately, we’re at the mercy of Google, but all is not lost as there are some work arounds, which aren’t perfect, but can alleviate the pain a little for marketers:
Google Webmaster Tools Example
- Download Dan Barkers Not provided tool kit for Google Analytics. This provides some useful reports and dashboards to help give you better insight.
- Remember that adwords keyword data is still there and is a great way of seeing how effective keywords are for your website before targeting them organically.
- Keyword data from other search engines is still available. It’s easy to forget about Bing et al. but their keyword data is still available via analytics.
- Don’t forget about onsite search – this can give you great insight into what people type into the search box once they arrive on your website.
- Look at the pages receiving traffic where you know which keywords you are targeting and keep track of how these are performing.
- Google Webmaster tools still shows what keywords have been driving traffic and movement on these keywords, unfortunately it doesn’t show which pages it’s driving it to.