(Not provided) on Google organic keywords is a reality. What now?
Search Engine Optimisation

(Not provided) on Google organic keywords is a reality. What now?

24th September 2013

Yesterday we got the news many SEO’ers have been dreading. Google moves entirely to secure search, which means all organic keywords from Google will now be (not provided) in your web analytics system. How do we go from here? And will we really miss the organic keywords?

First of all, is it really that bad? What do the organic keyword report actually give us today that we cannot find somewhere else? An organic report first of all provides us with information on what keywords we already rank well for. Not the ones we should rank well for. The combined paid and organic report, or the paid-report alone, gives us a much more accurate picture of what keywords people actually use, and which ones that gives us actual value.

In other words, I don’t think the pure organic keyword report will be missed for long. We might be in shock right now, but most of us will be able to move on pretty fast. And we have still got a lot of better alternatives than the organic keyword report.

Profile filter in Analytics

If you have friendly and unique URLs, a profile filter in Google Analytics can provide you with a lot of the information lost in the (not provided)-update.

analytics filter

With this filter you see the landing page that the (not provided) keyword landed on. This gives you great information about your organic visibility. Read more about it here and here.

Webmaster Tools

The organic keywords that made your site appear in Google, are still visible in Google Webmaster Tools:

webmaster tools keyword report

See? You didn’t actually lose the data, it just moved to another (free) Google-platform! Of course, through this report you can’t connect the keywords with other data, but at least you didn’t lose the keywords.

If you connect Webmaster Tools to Google AdWords, you can also see how your site appeared in organic search combined with ads, through the Paid and Organic report. Another great report that will provide you with a lot of information that the organic report couldn’t.

AdWords keyword data

AdWords keyword data, both in your web analytics system and inside AdWords, are still available. I personally prefer the search query reports in AdWords, since this report provides me with information on the actual queries used to show the ads. Grab a search query report, sort on impressions, clicks, CTR and CPC, and you have got great information to build your strategies upon, without even opening Analytics.

The other search engines

Remember, Google is not the only one. They might be big, but they are certainly not alone. Although the other engines have got less volume, people probably search in the same way and with the same keywords, in the other engines. The organic keyword reports will still contain keywords, but with (not provided) as a much larger part of the grand total.

See the whole picture

Most importantly, we should never, ever rely on one single report to determine our work. All people working within digital should think about the whole picture. The loss of the organic keywords could actually be a great opportunity for us to think differently about our SEO approach.

Important note: If your website use SSL (https) technology, you will still get keyword data from users that is not logged into Google. For now. Let`s see what Google`s next move is.

How will you handle the new situation? Let us know in the comments.


Written By
Agnete Tøien Pedersen is Head of SEO in iProspect Norway and has years of experience within SEM, SEO, web publishing and journalism. She is also chairman of the Board of Ethical SEM in Norway, BraSøk. On a daily basis she is working with customers of all sizes, in Norway, the...
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