There is something in Google Analytics called (Not Provided). It is listed as a keyword in the Organic Search Traffic report section. This number represents the amount of non-paid searchers who came to a website who were logged into Google when they performed their search.
Search engine optimization experts and Internet marketers in general have been up in arms about this blocked data for some time. The main reason, the amount of blocked data in the (Not Provided) section just keeps growing. SEO experts had optimistically thought for a long time that this number would one day disappear and Google would graciously hand that data back over. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
On September 23, 2013 Google confirmed that they will be making all searches secure, except of course, Ad clicks. This change marks the beginning of an obstacle or opportunity, depending on how you look at it. The obstacle being, we lose all that easily accessible keyword search data. We will no longer know if terms are branded or non-branded. The opportunity being that savvy online marketers will find ways to get around this blocked data by Google.
Why Did Google Block this Data
The first question that arises in our mind is, why the heck did Google do this! It would be comparable to giving my new puppy Brody a treat and letting him chew on it for 5 minutes and then taking it away.
People speculate that they did this to (1) Entice people to buy more ads. If they have less data, then they need to spend more to learn more. (2) According to Search Engine Land, “In June, Google was accused of cooperating to give the NSA instant and direct access to its search data through the PRISM spying program, something the company has strongly denied. That hasn’t saved it from criticism.”
What Can SEO Professionals do About Blocked Organic Keyword Data
At this point, I am sorry to say, there is no easy answer. But one example of something thing you can do is take a look at the URLs that are getting organic search data. If you look at the URL, the keywords that URL is optimized for and match that up with ranking data you can get a pretty good picture of search traffic. There are also some workarounds you can do with Webmaster Tools as well as a few other less effective methods, but I’ll cover that in another post. I will say that I can almost guarantee an SEO software provided will make big bucks off creating a third-party tool that can accurately report on this data.
Summing It Up
It is too bad Google does stuff like this. Microsoft and Yahoo give you all the data you need, but Google seems to be so focused on squeezing out extra revenue that they often inhibit the people who use their products the most. While that is the case, where there is a problem there is an opportunity. Expect to see a post on the top ways to deal with this issue soon. Until then, take a look at Rand’s most recent whiteboard Friday. It covers a few good points, but it still leaves room for more answers.