If you’ve been looking at keyword data in Google Analytics, you’ve certainly noticed the frustrating « Not Provided » section. Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more dominant in terms of percentages and we suspect the future is bleak; all keywords are hidden from SEO professionals. Google’s decision not to show this data may be more harmful than Penguin or Panda updates. When these updates rolled out, many websites suffered significant damage, many of which have yet to fully recover.
How will this impact your future SEO efforts?
Accepting that keyword data will last forever is a start. Try to determine the best way to enter this new playing field; dig into page metrics and performance to understand what the real drivers of website revenue and conversions are.
Are keywords still important?
Absolutely! Keyword search is what users use to find content, and unless something really radical happens in search, I don’t see that changing. You’ll still optimize your pages for key phrases and monitor your page rankings, and if you can see that the terms you optimized for rank well, then there’s a good chance that that keyword is driving traffic to that landing page.
What other methods and tools can be deployed to solve the « not provided » problem?
Google Webmaster is a great place to start, but it has its limitations. You can’t compare years, and you can’t access data older than two months. However, it also provides additional information not found in your analysis, so it’s well worth checking out. There’s also useful data on video, image, and mobile searches. The Google Core reporting API is another useful tool for importing data into Excel to infer the data.
What are the reporting implications?
Anyone who has used an SEO agency knows that keyword rankings dominate reporting, so this will greatly impact reporting. Clients need to be educated and confident that it’s the SEO team’s efforts in writing, syndicating content, and social media that are truly driving traffic.
As we all know, content is king, and this change validates that strategy more than ever. Writing great and eye-catching content will not only improve your rankings, but it will also force marketers to be more creative and produce better websites. I can understand why Google made this decision, but I will greatly miss having access to my keyword data.