What’s up with Google Analytics not provided keyword? I was surprised to see this as one of the major source of traffic for my site when I tried to check into my Google Analytics account. Along with the regular keywords, it shows a (not provided) keyword. This was quite surprising because the search analytics data is very useful for webmasters in determining what kind of traffic comes to their site.
So I looked around and found the official post from Google. You can find the post in the official Google Analytics blog titled Making Search More Secure. Essentially, what the blog post said was that for users who are logged into their Google accounts, the default setting is the SSL search setting. With this, the data is hidden from Google Analtyics and the webmasters cannot know the query. However, what the webmasters do know is that the visit is from an organic search result.
The reaction all over the web, especially from webmasters and SEO experts was that of shock. I don’t think too many people are happy about this. After all, keyword data is a very useful tool that all webmasters use. This data can be used to improve a site and the experience for the users. If I know that most of my readers are coming to my blog to know about freelancing, SEO and making money online, perhaps I will not write articles about the economy or about gardening.
SEOBook had written a scathing review, titled, “Google Whores Out Users With False Privacy Claims” of the whole process, and they point out a very good issue – Adwords users are unaffected! “Google cares about your privacy, unless they make money on you, then they don’t.”, reads the article. How true. In addition, do remember that Google still owns all your search data.
Further, the article claims and makes a good point that Google has taken the move only to turn away competition from accessing the data. Apparently competitors like Chitika are becoming more and more efficient in using this information.
How Will it Affect You?
If you are a webmaster, this could definitely affect you significantly. The news is still fresh and it is hard to know how much it is going to have an affect. People might always come up with ways around the system, like getting an Adwords account or something else that works with Google. If the case that SEOBook makes against Google is sound, it could be possible that some anti-competition or anti-trust regulators might be noticing.
The (not provided) keyword information from Google Analytics is definitely a tough one to digest for webmasters. It is an information black-box through which you cannot see. It represents a good segment of your visitors and you will never fully know your audience now. It is kind of sad because such information empowers webmasters.
That being said, even without this data, there is still a ton of other data available through Analytics that you should be able to utilize as before. Also, perhaps it is time to move beyond just the keywords anyway, and look for other promotional material. Or may be not.
Can Data be Interpolated?
I am not too sure about this. with the (not provided) keyword, Google is just lumping all these keywords into one. Now, you might lose access to some lucrative long-tail keywords. This information is hard to research and Analytics was a great tool to go out and hunt for these. After all, what better way to search for keywords than going through the list of what actual users typed and found you.
Also, I don’t think it will remain very statistically balanced, i.e. it will be hard to interpolate data (unless you have a million visits a day to smooth out the bumps). Some keywords might be more susceptible to show up in the not provided keyword category while others might not.
Alternatives and Future
I am not too sure about this, but I have a feeling there will be a few follow up posts – it is a big news and big change from Google.
If you are a webmaster and blogger interesting in making money online, you still need the best SEO tools. Try out the Keyword Winner WordPress Plugin which is extremely helpful and convenient in giving you all the SEO information in one place – your blog! On the other hand, if you want an accelerated ranking and fast forward through the SEO process, try SEO Elite. I’ll let the product speak for itself.
What are your thoughts on this new change?