What to do about Google Analytics Keyword (not provided)
Yesterday, Google made an update to its keyword reporting that sent shockwaves through the SEO industry.
To recap, in 2011 Google made changes to the way keywords were reported in Google Analytics; if someone was logged into their Google Account and performed a keyword search, Google Analytics no longer reported on the keyword used and (not provided) began to show as the top keyword source in Google Analytics for many website owners.
Yesterday, Google moved entirely to secure search. This has a huge impact on website owners as now, they are unable to segment keyword performance and further refine their online marketing strategies.
That is, of course, if they are unaware of how to get around this move by Google.
Although the below tactics won’t provide you with the exact keyphrases driving traffic to your site, they will give you a really good idea of search queries your site shows for, which queries you receive clicks for (or don’t!) and direction for keyword research.
And remember – the same SEO principals apply with this update – no keyword research tool has ever been 100% guaranteed or effective in giving SEO secrets away. This update isn’t an “SEO killer” rather it should reinforce the use of good old-fashioned data analysis.
1. Webmaster Tools Search Query Report
If you use Google Analytics you should be using Google Webmaster Tools. The two integrate together to provide in-depth analysis into not only how Google is crawling your site – but which search queries your website is showing and receiving clicks for. The search queries report also shows your average ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPS).
2. Advanced Google Analytics filter set up
There are a variety of advanced filters you can set up in Google Analytics to identify keywords driving traffic to your site. Although these filters don’t identify the exact keyphrases they do identify which landing pages visitors are arriving at from a (not provided) keyphrase. This helps you to further refine SEO based on user behavior.
Note: Setting up filters in Google Analytics are not retroactive and will only provide analysis on data moving forward from the date the filter is set up.
4. Integrate On-site Search with Google Analytics
If you have a search functionality built into your website you should add Google Analytics tracking code to it. This helps to identify the keywords people think should be on your website. Again, not a tool to identify the keywords driving traffic to your site, but it does give you a great idea of the types of content people believe should be on your site.
Instructions for tracking your site search in Google Analytics are here. If you do not have experience with query strings and parameters, you may need the help of a developer to implement this.
5. Google Trends and other Keyword Tools
Lastly, using the keyword tools you have historically will continue to provide insight into trends surrounding search volume (the keyword in this being trends). Keyword tools should still be used to identify the best search volume possibilities and in no way should ever be taken as 100% accurate.
If you or your search marketing team had a mild heart-attack upon hearing yesterday’s news, not to worry, with the above tips and some clever thinking this transition to secure search can easily be worked around to continue providing valuable Google Analytics reporting.
Have questions regarding Google’s move to secure search? Ask in the comments section below and we will respond.