(Not Provided), Secure Search and What it Means for Your Business

Once upon a time, you could open Google Analytics and see what search terms were generating traffic for your website. It was great feedback. But, last week there was and still is a big reaction on the web with the news that Google had shifted most of it’s organic keyword data to [not provided] as a result of secure search.

Huh? Secure search means no more keyword data in Google Analytics. We only see a small fraction of the keyword data now, and soon it will be all gone.

This move to remove search data had been going on for some time, but the ruckus is from the sudden ramp up. For a full timeline view of how this has rolled out, visit notprovidedcount.com to see a very dramatic line graph. The snapshot below shows the rate at which keyword data is being removed, and it is clear that it will soon be completely removed.

(Not Provided), Secure Search and What it Means for Your Business image keyword data from google has been removed at a dramatic increased rate(Not Provided), Secure Search and What it Means for Your Business

Jennifer Slegg from searchenginewatch.com has a great summary of the move by Google:

When a user goes to Google to search, they are automatically redirected to the https:// version of their Google domain of choice.

When someone conducts a search on Google, it is now always done as an SSL encrypted search, so all search queries are now encrypted. It routes the click to the website through a redirect so that the website a user lands on has no idea what actual keywords the searcher found the website under, and what keywords were used that brought the person there.

This is great from a privacy perspective, and is why Google is making the change. However, only natural search clicks are affected; Google AdWords advertisers still have full access to the keywords on every ad click made on their ads.

What is (not provided)

When in Google Analytics and looking at keyword data in the search results, you will be confronted with something that looks like the below. And (not provided) will likely comprise 80% or more of your data as of October 2013. Before (not provided) you would see all the terms that visitors used in Google before landing on your site.

(Not Provided), Secure Search and What it Means for Your Business image b65f2f02cff44cff6da8f3ab8f04fbf0(Not Provided), Secure Search and What it Means for Your Business

How do I find out what keywords are working for my business?

Not all is lost, but it will take more work to get intelligence back on how your business performs for particular search phrases. Here are two tactics you can employ to get data back.

Use Google AdWords

Buy a few, very broad keywords in your industry, send them to a relevant landing page(s) on your site. The goal isn’t conversions, but rather to learn by watching the keyword terms and phrases for which you get impressions. As a basic rule of thumb produce more pages and content on impressions that are important to you but low in impression count.

Use SEO and filters in Google Analytics

The goal here is to find out how much (not provided) traffic went to key pages on your site. Doing will help to reveal the type of search that was conducted in order to land on that page.

  1. Take your key content pages and optimise them around a keyword. Using a capable and experienced search marketer is vital.
  2. Create filters for (not provided) traffic so that it shows you the landing page for each of the (not provided) referrals.

Now you will see how well each page, and once optimised each keyword performs compared to your other content pages. You’ll have visibility on your strengths and weaknesses.

Is getting found online important for your business? What metrics are you using to identify search terms that work?

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