In case you haven’t heard, Google announced earlier this week that they have begun the process of encrypting all search results and will no longer be providing keyword data in Google Analytics for website owners. They will, however, still provided the keyword data from Google AdWords.
About two years ago, Google began using “not provided” in Google Analytics for users who were logged in to their Google accounts. The number of “not provided” keywords began as a relatively small amount (like 15-20%) but that number has steadily grown over the last two years. A recent look at our own analytics data shows 89% of the keywords to our own Site Strategics website are “not provided.”
In case you didn’t know, if you perform a search in Google and then click on a link in results, all sorts of data is then transferred to the website’s analytics software. Everything from the keyword used to find the website (which is now being taken away), time spent on the website, how many pages are visited, and many other metrics.
Online marketers use this information to improve their website and improve the web experience for the web’s visitors. Plus, we use this information to explore new keywords we can improve website audience.
We want to provide SSL protection to as many users as we can, in as many regions as we can — we added non-signed-in Chrome omnibox searches earlier this year, and more recently other users who aren’t signed in. We’re going to continue expanding our use of SSL in our services because we believe it’s a good thing for users…. The motivation here is not to drive the ads side — it’s for our search users.
So Now What?
This is unfortunate news for our industry. It doesn’t make our job impossible to do, it just makes it more difficult and will hopefully start to weed out the bad SEOs even more than the Penguin and Panda updates. So, if this news caught you by surprise, here are a few tips to help you find new keyword opportunities for your website.
Google Webmasters Data
Google Webmasters Tools still provides keyword visibility data and if you combine that with keyword ranks and your top landing pages, you will still have a pretty good idea of how well the your keywords are working. The provided data in Google Webmaster Tools is not the most exact, but it will give you a rough estimate on the health of your website.
You can still use Google AdWords to see viable keywords for your website. You will have to experiment a little more with the broad match function in AdWords to find new keyword combinations though. The volume data is still available in AdWords as well, so you can still find the popularity of different keywords.
With the beginning shift away from keyword tracking, I think more companies will have to rely on this more. A few keyword tracking tools I recommend are SEO Profiler and Authority Labs. Include a number of different keywords into your reports with a mixture of fathead keywords, medium-tail keywords, and long-tail keywords.
Internal Site Search
If you have an internal search function on your website, you can use those keywords to see what people are already searching for when they arrive to your website. If people have already found your website and are searching for those terms, then chances are you need to rank for those keywords as well in Google.
Other Helpful Tools
Some other helpful tools for you to look into are Google Suggest and SEM Rush. Here are Site Strategics, we are big fans of SEM Rush. There is a lot of great things you can do with the tool. And if you have ever had Google finish a search for you, then you have used Google Suggest. Google Suggest is a great tool to see what popular keywords people are using.
Those are a few of the tactics we use here at Site Strategics to work around the “not provided” keyword data. We also explorer this topic further on our weekly podcast, Edge of the Web Radio.
What are some of the other tactics you use and will use in the future to find new keyword opportunities?