Changes in Google Keywords

Last year’s changes are still rattling the world of SEO professionals.  As of last September all Google Searches became “secure” and result in a “not provided” response from Google.  Despite initial claims by Google that it would only affect a small percentage of overall analytics data for organic search, the reality is some sites were seeing well over 50 percent “(not provided)”, particularly in sectors like technology where there is a higher likelihood that a visitor would be logged into their Google account as well.

Fast forward a year and now 95% of keywords being reported as “(not provided)”, with that remaining 5 percent coming from non-Google searches. So why did Google do this and what does this mean in the long term for SEO professionals trying to decipher the analytics.

The “why” portion of this question, , , it  can be answered by Search Engine Watch Group online. “There has been plenty of speculation, running wildly from “the NSA told them to” to “they did it to force people to buy more AdWords ads!” Tin foil hats aside, neither of those options make a good case for why Google made the secure search change.” In reality Google has been moving toward steps to protect everyone’s privacy and to prevent eavesdropping by government agencies for years.

What are some current workarounds to battle against the Google encryption.

  • Look at Non-Google Keywords- Look at your non-Google search engine referral traffic. While Bing doesn’t send a significant portion of traffic for a site will looking at overall search, you still can get an idea of what keywords are bringing traffic, particularly for sites that have significant amount traffic.
  • Use Google Webmaster Tools- If you’ve gone this long without using Google Webmaster Tools, you will definitely want to sign up for it now. You can still get keyword data in Google Webmaster Tools, by clicking on Search Traffic > Search Queries, and yes, it does include search data from encrypted searches.
  • Analyze On-Site Searches- You should capture all the on-site searches that visitors are doing on your site, so you can also get a better idea of exactly the keywords they are for.
  • Look at Historical Data – But without the keyword data, you’ll be stuck kind of guessing at the potential keywords that are bringing in people to a page on your site.

Whether we like it or not, Google’s encrypted search is here to stay. We will continue our efforts to find new ways to work around the analytic problem.  Read More