How to Use Paid Tools to Solve the “Not Provided” Google Analytics  Problem

How to Use Paid Tools to Solve the “Not Provided” Google Analytics Problem

5th February 2014

100% Secure Search which made headline news late last year, was one of the biggest changes to hit the search industry.  However, 100% not provided was not unexpected as the percentage of keywords had increased to over 50% since its launch in May 2010.  It was only a matter of time before Google encrypted all searches, something which many in SEO had feared.

We all know the reason for secure search, but for a recap, below is Google’s explanation:

“We added SSL encryption for our signed-in search users in 2011, as well as searches from the Chrome omnibox earlier this year. We’re now working to bring this extra protection to more users who are not signed in.”

Many of those in marketing, especially those in SEO (who did not run PPC campaigns) depended on this keyword research to help them understand what their users were searching for to find their website.  As one of those SEOs, I wanted to find out more about some of the paid tools in the market and how those in search could work with them to optimise sites, bringing more traffic and sales.

I therefore got in touch with three of the major tools in the industry at the moment, Searchmetrics, Linkdex and Brightedge, to see how they handle the ‘not provided’ problem.


Searchmetrics-LogoMarcus Tober, Founder of Searchmetrics shares with us the latest new features of the tool and how it can help with secure search as well as other aspects of online marketing.

1) How has Searchmetrics managed the “not provided” feature of Google Analytics?

Searchmetrics provides one of the best out-of-the-box software solutions to help companies after “not-provided” reengineering keywords for their domain’s landing pages – namely the Suite. In the course of the “not provided” issue, SM have even developed a feature, named “Traffic Insight”, helping to close the knowledge gap.

Searchmetrics can help with “not provided” in 4 ways:

  1. Searchmetrics Research keyword database. This is one of the biggest databases with regularly updated rankings and indicators to search volume and potential click-price. Searchmetrics database has data for over 100 million domains.
  2. Searchmetrics Suite with Analytics and GWT connection. The smartest way to get the advantage out of Searchmetrics keyword database and keywords that Google provides via Webmastertools. For many landing pages Searchmetrics can recover 20 to 50% of the keywords. This is done by reverse engineering traffic on a keyword level.
  3. Searchmetrics Suite with Analytics, GWT and PPC data. With the inclusion of PPC data, Searchmetrics is able to combine data from SEO with PPC. The definitive best solution to get keywords and quality metrics like traffic and conversion back on a keyword level.
  4. The Keyword Ideas feature helps users research multiple related keywords including long tail. The Searchmetrics keyword database includes more than 250 million keywords with billions of connections between these keywords.   Clients can start a project with their most important keywords and they will get multiple related keywords covered in topics not just keywords.

2) How does Searchmetrics capture keyword data? (Has this always been the case)?

Searchmetrics captures keyword mainly through their ranking research database which is based on rankings in 20 countries (research) and 124 countries (project based). Searchmetrics has also built a 250 million keyword database were there are many keyword relationships to the keywords Searchmetrics have in their rankings database.

This gives Searchmetrics a lot of information about keywords than just the term itself.  SM clusters the keywords into topics.  Semantic keywords and optimising around key themes is the future of SEO.

3) Where does Searchmetrics get this data from?

This data is from Searchmetric’s historical research database built over the years. This is one of the most accurate and comprehensive solutions to get keywords. Additionally, Searchmetrics gives customers the possibility to enhance the data in their accounts with third party integrations from GA, Adobe Analytics, AT Internet, GWT etc.

4) There are a lot of tools in the market, what is the USP of Searchmetrics?

  • Searchmetrics owns the data and the algorithms. Because of this, they are able to perform the best analysis for their clients without limitations. Searchmetrics have a large SEO database with historical data, backlinks, social links and a keyword database.
  • Searchmetrics Suite SEO approach is holistic. They are not a tool just for the SEO experts alone. SM cover every aspect in SEO and even have developed their own algorithms such as content optimisation to help clients succeed.
  • Searchmetrics is the innovator in the industry. They started as the first professional SEO SaaS Company, set up in 2007 and were the first that recognised it was data and algorithms, not just keywords that were important in a tool.

5) To what degree is Searchmetrics affected by the other Google updates such as Hummingbird?

Hummingbird is / will become the biggest update Google ever released.  However, its impact on SM is yet to be seen.

There are some long-tail queries where the potential of Hummingbird is visible but that doesn’t affect too many queries. Google is after the meaning behind the query and putting it into a context. The behavior we have learnt over the past 15 to 20 years where users are just inputting short query strings will not change overnight. Over time with better results and with people recognising Google’s improved results, we will see the real potential of the Hummingbird update.


LinkdexMatt Roberts, VP of Product and Co Founder of Linkdex  took part in the interview for State of Digital and explained how Linkdex helps marketers with “not provided”.

1) How has Linkdex managed the “not provided” feature from Google Analytics?

Linkdex is not concerned with secure search update from Google. They have already been providing traffic estimates for keywords before the 100% not provided was rolled out late last year from a variety of sources:

  • Paid Search campaigns
  • Manual input/upload
  • Domain and page visibility data

2) How does Linkdex capture keyword data? (Has this always been the case)?

Linkdex also allows users to change the inputs based on either other data they have available e.g. PPC impression data that gives better insight on search volume, Webmaster Tool (WMT) click through data, historic GA data (pre not provided).

Helping provide traffic estimates for keywords is one small part of Linkdex, which is a much broader and deeper platform designed to help users measure and improving a brands search engine visibility and influence.

Other paid tools like SEM Rush and Searchmetrics track tens of millions of keywords through time to provide instant rank and traffic estimates for domains. Linkdex extended their capabilities to offer the same solution in addition and combined with the other methods outlined in the previous question.

3) What is the USP of Linkdex?

Linkdex is constantly providing new features to its platform which is one of its USPs as well as:

  • Feature depth and unique data sources like authorship data, link insights, network analysis
  • A deep, multi-million page crawler for large website optimisation
  • Presentation ready advanced reporting
  • Allows users to assign a click through rate model to an individual keyword. This means that brand keywords could be modelled in a different way to generic keywords

Based on the width of the technology and combined feature depth and unique data sources such as the features mentioned above, Linkdex won Best SEO Software and the UK and US Search Awards in 2013.

4) To what degree is Linkdex affected by the Google updates such as Hummingbird and Secure Search?

There has not yet been an impact on Linkdex from Hummingbird.  Linkdex is constantly developing new features and was working with clients before Google finally went to 100% Not Provided to create accurate forecasts of the data they were missing. This meant creating not only new features but new way to provide and access keyword data. This included beginning to predict traffic for domains against much larger universes of keywords.


Mark Mitchell and Andy Betts from BrightEdge share the latest updates from BrightEdge and their content focused approach to SEO.

1)  How has BrightEdge managed the “not provided” feature from Google Analytics?

BrightEdge are constantly innovating to keep customers ahead of the changes in search and digital marketing.  They saw the move towards 100% secure search coming and they had been investing in their platform to address this.

Jim Yu, CEO and founder of BrightEdge stated in SearchEngineWatch “that the gradual rise in the number of keywords “(not provided)” signalled an impending paradigm shift in the keyword model market to a content-centric model”.  BrightEdge have put together the new search manifesto with the help of over 20,000 search professionals in the BrightEdge community.

BrightEdge also produced a three-step framework for Secure Search Marketers to follow.

This contains three steps and two key enablers.

Secure Search Bright Edge

This methodology goes into more detail on SearchEngineLand.

2) How does BrightEdge capture keyword data? (Has this always been the case)?

BrightEdge captures keyword data through proprietary technology and 3rd party sources.  One of the biggest implications of Secure Search for marketers is the need for access to alternative data sources.  The GWMT data is available within BrightEdge. Looking at the BrightEdge keyword data with GWMT Impressions, Clicks and CTR restores some of the lost keyword visibility.

Last year at Share13, BrightEdge discussed a new research report showing the impact of secure search across their 8,400 brand customers. The BrightEdge platform at this time contained content-centric SEO analytics and recommendations such as Share of Voice, Page Manager, Site Audit, Total SEO and Content Optimiser.  This all help clients to perform better in a secure search world.

3) Where does BrightEdge get this data from?

BrightEdge data gives 20/20 vision through data sources, e.g., Google Webmaster Tools and Majestic Backlinks, side by side with keyword, rank, page, and search volume data, providing in-depth keyword insights all in one place.

BrightEdge partners with Majestic SEO’s link index for link management. Customers can learn about existing and historical backlink information including quantity, anchor text, URL, add date, category, and type. The system also provides recommendations for backlink opportunities and insight into competitor backlinks.

4) What is the USP of BrightEdge?

  • Comprehensive Solution for Secure Search. Page-level SEO recommendations are made for over 32 on and offpage factors including content, header tags, meta tags, social signals, backlinks, and keywords.
  • Estimated Traffic Reporting & Customisable Click Curves.  This allows brands to apply a custom formula or custom calculation to their business that estimates the actual search traffic based on search volume and keyword ranking.
  • Content Centric SEO. Understand content performance for individual pages as well as business units through page groups – aligning SEO to the client’s company structure. BrightEdge allows customers to optimise pages for multiple keywords and also focuses on internal linking structure.
  • Blended Rank & Carousel Reporting.  This shows rank and performance by device type – mobile, tablet, and desktop. BrightEdge tracks global and local search engine rankings across 141 cities and 111 countries, including China’s Baidu and Russia’s Yandex. Keywords can be tracked in either English or the local language.

5) To what degree is BrightEdge affected by other Google updates such as Hummingbird?

BrightEdge understands there are many updates released by Google each year and therefore ensures its own algorithm is updated with fresh data in order to innovate ahead of the curve.  BrightEdge has been moving towards content centric SEO for some time. Through the site audit tool, users can get a comprehensive view of their site. The share of voice report also identifies where the client is in the market in relation to its competitors.  Page manager lets clients drill down and analyse the content of the page and how best to improve its performance. Content Optimizer allows authors to optimise new content for search rankings, traffic and conversions ‘out of the gate’ as new content is produced.


The three companies that took part in this interview are not the only paid tools in the market. Paid tools will help marketers discover “not provided” keyword data. However, what we should be focusing on is the on page and off page content (and wider marketing campaign). We have all heard of “content is king”, yet webmasters are still looking at only a few keywords they think is important and  want to rank high for. The paid tools have been working towards a more on site and content based approach to SEO which tie in with webmasters’ online marketing campaign. Secure search has forced marketers to look inwards and create a well structured content marketing campaign which is imperative in today’s competitive market.

Written By
Jo Juliana Turnbull is the organiser of Search London and the founder of SEO Jo Blogs, which provides practical advice and tips for those in SEO.
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