Google has been making some “moonshot” changes as of late. The most controversial change making headlines is Google’s change in user privacy. The increased search encryption translates to a decrease in keyword data availability on Google Analytics. Now when search inquiries are made on Google, an SSL encrypted search occurs and performs a redirect after a link is clicked on. The website the user selected then has no way of knowing what keywords the user typed to find the site. When trying to locate this information through Analytics, many are finding the keyword is “(not provided).” The amount of “(not provided)” data on Google is currently at 79%.
Without this knowledge, businesses are not able to track what users want and take the appropriate action to make their experience on the site a better one, despite the fact that this seems to be Google’s goal. Though there has been a drop in the amount of organic keyword data on Analytics, visitor search data is still attainable through other means.
- Use non-Google keywords data. Looking at non-Google search engine referral traffic, such as from Bing, is not as ideal as the former Google Analytics, but it will still allow you to see what keywords were used to get to your site. This method is better for larger sites with a significant amount of traffic.
- Use Google Webmaster Tools. Click on “Search Traffic” to find keyword data through Google Webmaster Tools. Data from encrypted searches is included, though you will only find information for up to 90 days ago. You may find it convenient to save the data to a CSV and Google Docs file every 30 days so you have access to it as long as you need. Webmaster Tools actually has an advantage over Analytics, given that it allows you to also see impression vs. click data.
- Use Google Trends. A spike in traffic to your site could be an indication of a search related to a current trend or popular news item. Checking Google Trends may be able to offer insight into the current trends bringing users to your site. You will still also be able to view your historical data, including keywords, prior to the change in encryption. This older data will remain to be useful, especially when looking at trending searches for seasonal content.
“(Not provided)” is currently a thorn in many a website owner’s or SEO specialist’s side, but as we better understand the changes that Google is implementing we will also be able to improve practices. It may just take a little more creativity.