Have you noticed the steady rise of (Not Provided) as the number one organic search term in Google Analytics?
This was due to Google's decision to start encrypting searches for people signed in and they were redirected to a HTTPS search page.
Now they have recently quietly announced that ALL search engine traffic will be encrypted so the (Not Provided) will eventually be all you can see in Google Analytics.
This is only for organic searches only.
What does this mean for small business?
This might seem like a blow, but it is not the end of the world as there are ways to find the data you need.
If you are using this data to track traffic to your site there are still a few options to get some keyword data.
- Google webmaster tools will still show keywords used to find your site and your popular pages (however you can only see 2,000 terms per day, going back 90 days)
- Google adwords still has its keyword planner and paid traffic will still have keyword data in Analytics
- Third party tools like SEMrush and WordTracker can be used to view competitor keywords
- Google trends can show search trends for the last few years and if data exists can forecast trends in the future too
- Use other tools like Bing webmaster tools and see your keywords in there. Although Bing has a much smaller search engine market share, the keywords are still (currently) available.
What should you do now?
We've heard that content is king for years now and this change along side the recent Hummingbird algorithm update from Google means that this is more important than ever.
Google requires new content and you'll need to produce regular content that is useful for your visitors. A blog would be a good option.
As mentioned before, the keyword report in webmaster tools can still show how many times your keywords have been used in search queries, the average position in the search results and the click through rate. It can also show you your top pages.
To gain insight through Google Analytics you can look at the landing page report and from this you can determine the keywords on that page and see what people are searching for to find it.
Google Adwords keyword planner and impression data can help you identify new keyword opportunities related to your business.
As a small busines this change might strike fear into you as you will no longer be able to see the top organic keywords for your pages.
However using the above methods, you can still find useful keyword data from other sources.
All the experts are saying we should concentrate on our landing pages as things like conversion rates, per visit value, revenue, bounce rate, time on site, and pages viewed are all still there.
Using landing pages we can then see what people are interested in on our site, then we can see which keywords are on that page and either make more content like it or improve the content on that page.
To paraphrase Google's Matt Cutts - The key to a succesful website is to provide useful content and a great user experience.