Google’s Quest to Make Search Secure: an Increase in “not provided”


Recently, Google made a dramatic change in the amount of information it is providing to site owners regarding the keywords that generate traffic to their sites. According to Google, the company is striving to bring extra protection to its users by heightening its encryption of searches. This change has the world of search marketing buzzing as it will substantially increase the number of search terms that will appear as “(not provided)” in site analytics. The resulting impact is that tying search terms to conversions within organic search becomes much more challenging. Google is the first of the search engines to make this shift, however it appears that the other engines may also be moving in the same direction.

While this shift undoubtedly makes accessing information regarding keyword searches more difficult, obtaining keyword data and campaign insights is still feasible when you approach the process from a different angle. Further, because there are other ways to measure success, losing search query data isn’t as detrimental as it initially seems. Here are a few alternate measurement strategies from the experts at NHI.


1. Keyword rank is data you can leverage. Because ranking still serves as a leading indicator of keyword performance, you may find yourself using your ranking tool more frequently. NHI already provides this information in its SEO reports, but if you aren’t currently using a ranking tool this may be a good time to consider adopting one.

2. Utilize Webmaster Tools and be sure to link to Google Analytics. Publishers will continue to have access to the top 2,000 keywords within a 90-day timeframe. This will give you some insight into the traffic being driven to your site, albeit for a limited period of time and for a limited number of keywords.

3. Approach obtaining conversion data creatively. While keywords may increasingly appear as (not provided), Google Analytics will still report landing page data, thus allowing you to see the landing pages linked to (not provided) keywords. At the same time, Webmaster Tools makes it possible to link keywords to landing pages – this means that you can gather conversion data by combining insights from Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. It may take some extra work, but these insights are still accessible.

4. Use Google AdWords. While organic search terms are increasingly being replaced with “(not provided)” in Google Analytics, if you run paid search campaigns from Google AdWords, the search term is made available to you in Analytics and can therefore be associated with conversion goals.


Image source: encrypted search




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