A few weeks ago, Google announced it was going to increase its search privacy by not sharing your search data with anybody through Google Analytics (unless you click an AdWords Ad) when you perform a search while signed into your Google account. Within a few days, the SEO community began to see a dreaded “(not provided)” jump up as their sites’ top keyword driving traffic. A move that was theoretically anticipated to impact less than 10% of searches has shown to have a much wider effect.
After the first week or so of implementation, the switch was only influencing the reporting on around 2% of searches but as November came around, that number began to jump well above 10%, with some sites even reporting seeing 50% of their keyword statistics blocked!
Check out how our clients were impacted by this change. As you can see by industry, businesses that provide B2B services are being impacted quite a bit more:
There doesn’t seem to be any stop to these numbers yet either. Our largest client based on search traffic, the Photography Lab above, has seen its “(not provided)” jump to 12% since we did this audit a few days ago. The hidden keywords have performed quite well too, making their omissions harder for us to stomach. Of the top 10 organic keywords coming to the site, it has the best Pages/Visit, Time on Site, bounce rate and the highest percentage of new visitors.
It’s more than that though; the “(not provided)” keyword converts into sales at a much higher rate than other traffic. New Member signups are 235% higher than the other search traffic, “More Info” requests are 60% higher and Product Orders are 25% higher. The ability to see that info would help provide a huge boost to not only our search marketing efforts but the client’s ability to better see emerging trends in their industry and exploit them in the site’s various calls to action and product highlights.
So how do you overcome this to take back control of your web presence?
- Enhanced communication between client and SEO firm to ensure that information is still flowing and any new jumps in product sales are being communicated (this should obviously already be a habit)
- Doing more optimization based on landing page than the keywords necessarily coming into that page. If an optimized page is performing well, you probably have a good idea what keywords are coming into it and can place even more optimization on those terms in link building and throughout the site
- Installing SSL security on your website: Search Engine Watch has posited that “Secured users that click into secured sites should still be able to capture keyword data as well. Those organizations that employ SSL may want to consider the option of moving to a completely secure online experience.” A security certificate can be purchased through most web hosts for $100/year or less and (while we haven’t confirmed it yet) should resolve this black hole in reporting.
This change is yet another illustration of the constantly shifting industry of web marketing and search engine optimization. The important thing is to keep abreast of these changes, and to build a strategy that is robust enough to weather the changes, yet agile enough to take advantage of new opportunities. Keep reading our blog, and we’ll do our part to keep you informed of the latest trends.