Big changes coming to Google Analytics and “not provided” traffic

Google is making big changes.

This type of change is a little different as it effects Google Analytics and the ability to see keyword searches in visits to your website. It almost merits a Kevin McCallister type of reaction.

Here’s some information on the changes and how they will have an impact on you:

What is the big change in Google Analytics?


You may have noticed something called “not provided” in the Organic Search Traffic section of Google Analytics. This category or keyword started appearing in September of 2011. It represented people who were searching on Google and were logged in. At the time, Google implemented this to protect the privacy of its users.

As of this week, news broke that Google would be expanding this to protect the privacy of the majority of people utilizing Google.

As of this week we can see that about 70-90% of organic search traffic searches of our clients are being grouped into “not provided.”

Google’s reasoning for this change is to ensure the privacy of its website visitors. Some people think they are making this change to push people into using Google AdWords (where you can still see how people are finding your website and what keyword terms have converted into leads/sales). Some say that it’s a response to the PRISM controversy.

How does it impact your SEO campaign?

By eliminating the ability to see what terms people are using to get to your website, you are essentially losing key data telling you how people found your website. This data was used to make strategic content decisions.

Needless to say, we are disappointed in Google’s decision to make this change.

Where can I find keyword data? Is it coming back?

As of right now, Google hasn’t provided another channel to find this data. I suspect a paid version of Analytics will be coming which will include some of this organic search data. But for right now, we just have to sit and wait.

How do you proceed given these major changes?

You can still see value from an SEO campaign through a few metrics:

  1. Increase in overall traffic to your website
  2. Improvement in traffic to landing pages via search engines
  3. A rise in inquiries or sales via search engines
  4. Keyword positions

What can you conclude from this?

little-nerosThings change constantly in the internet marketing world. In any instance, something changes and the community adapts. If anything, this will challenge SEO gurus to be even bigger Google Analytics geeks.

Knowing we will have to work even harder to provide recommendations, the Sixth City team will try to relax and perhaps order their very own cheese pizza from Little Nero’s.

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