This week, one burning issue has been the talk of the SEO industry: "not provided".
Google is changing the way it uses keyword data and this in turn is affecting the SEO professional’s ability to analyse the performance of search terms and the way in which they report this to their client, or line manager.
The search engine is rolling out secure search to even more users and web browsers. Secure search hides information on the keywords that visitors used to find a site. This means that Google Analytics will offer less information on the keywords generating SEO traffic. It will also be more difficult to illustrate the performance of non-brand search terms against brand terms.
The "not provided" problem isn’t a new one, but it is on the rise. It has been for some time. Anybody logged into Google products like search, Gmail, YouTube and Google+ have had their search activity hidden from analytics for a while. But now Google will also mask data from users that aren’t logged in too.
The solution for online marketers is not to rely on a single source of keyword data.
While Google Analytics keyword data was important, the change doesn’t mark the end of the SEO industry. Here at HitSearch, we use Google Webmaster Tools to find out which keywords gain impressions and clicks for our clients. We can also use Webmaster Tools to report on their average position in the search engine rankings.
We will continue to use analytics to gain insight into organic traffic and get an idea of which sections of a website are performing well and which demand attention. Other major search engines like Yahoo and Bing still provide all keyword data. While their market share of search users might be smaller, this data can still provide insight into the types of keyword being searched for.
For Andrew Adams, Search Executive at HitSearch Limited, this flexibility is key.
He said: "We use multiple sources to find the best terms to optimise for and remain confident we can achieve this in light of these changes. The reporting of organic traffic is the only aspect that may be affected by these changes. We will adapt with a minimum of fuss in order to continue providing the insight that our clients need."