By improving security Google has decreased the amount of keyword data in Google Analytics. So how do you improve SEO without this data?
In 2011 Google began to encrypt search queries for logged in users. When they did this it blocked refer data from being transferred to the site letting the site owner know what the user was searching for. At the time Google said it would only affect single digits worth of traffic. Maybe that was true for a short while at the start. It’s not true today.
More and more devices are enabling security be default or offering it to users. This has pushed up the number of unreported keywords. Recently people have accused Google of working with the NSA to snoop on web searchers. Google has denied this at every turn. In response to these accusations Google is rolling out encryption for users that are not logged in.
The website (Not Provided) Count has monitored the average (not provided) percentage across 60 important sites. This number has risen for months and has increased dramatically this week. When I started to write this blog post last night the average was over 73% and they estimated it would hit 100% on December 5th. Looking at it now the number has jumped to 77.68% and the estimate has dropped to November 25th. I expect that revision to change soon. Hopefully not before I finish this blog. :p
Looking at the stats for Brand Builder Websites I’ll tell you that our stats jumped from 75.7% to 76.35%. That is a 0.65% loss of keyword data in just a 1 day shift in the reported date range in Google Analytics.
Google Analytics Sans Keyword Data
If you cannot get keyword data from Google Analytics then you need to get them from some other means.
The first step is something you should already have done with your search engine marketing. You need to link your Google AdWords account to your Google Analytics. Google is not blocking their AdWords customers from access to keyword data. Google’s paying customers need access to this information to make informed decisions on the money they’re spending. Google may care about protecting the privacy of searchers, but they are not going to lose money doing so.
If you’re not already doing online marketing you need to start because your competition will. If you need help with your paid search advertising please contact us and Brand Builder Websites will happily offer you help.
The second step is to connect your Google Webmaster Tools account to your Google Analytics account. With this you can view 1000-2000 daily queries that drew visitors to your site. You can also view the highest landing pages. With this information you can draw some conclusions. If your site draws a lot of traffic that daily limit is definitely an issue. It’s also more time-consuming on your part.
A word to the wise, Google is currently displaying a No data is available from the most recent 2 calendar days warning message for every site I have checked to that has connected Google Analytics and the Google Webmaster Tools. This has happened before, but it could also be a policy change by Google.
The last step is to view your keyword data in Bing Webmaster Tools. By definition this is going to give you different access to data than what you’re used to from Google Analytics. It’s a different segment of users and it’s likely a lower volume. But it’s data you can use. You can infer that these keywords are somewhat relevant to your site.