The Dreaded Google “not provided”

Posted: September 26, 2013 in SEO Work
Tags: , , ,

Google has done it again! No, it’s not some great innovation or app like Google Glass or Sky. Google has done another one of their “let’s mess with SEO people” tactics. This time, it’s a real doozy: 100 percent of all Google Organic Search Queries will now show up as “not provided”.

As SEO professionals and webmasters, we’re used to looking up the keywords associated with search queries to determine which keywords are/are not working for our brand or website. Now, Google has pulled the rug out from under us. Google has secured all organic search query referral data. This means that you can no longer see from which source your traffic and sales are coming.

Google had been steadily ramping up secure search over the past few months to where nearly 70 percent of organic search data was secured as of a couple of months ago. Now, Google has completely flipped the switch. The only way you can see keyword data is if you use Google AdWords for advertising.

So what can you do? While this is definitely a knock to organic search professionals, there are still some other routes for obtaining organic data. You can also look at the landing pages and the keywords associated with each. If you have been tracking your analytics for a while, you probably know what keywords were driving people to these pages, or you might just know from the keywords that you used within the content. While slightly cumbersome, it can work to determine from where traffic is coming. Moz.com has also created a script for overwriting “not provided” with inferred keywords.

You can also use Bing Webmaster Tools: It’s free just like Google Analytics, and Microsoft has been improving its analytics offerings. The organic search results for both Google and Bing/Yahoo should be very similar so you can track what keywords/content are working within Bing and infer that those are also working within Google Search. You can also use a more comprehensive tool like Site Catalyst, but for most businesses, this is very expensive and a bit overwhelming.

Stay tuned for more changes from Google. I’m sure that there are more coming, but hopefully, they won’t be as dramatic as this.

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