Google Analytics: Guess the keyword
Gareth Beck | 17 May 2012
You may have noticed a big increase in the pesky (not provided) search phrase recently I’m seeing a lot of clients with this very high up in their top keywords report here’s a guide to what it is and the impact it might have. To check yours use this link.
Back in October 2011 I wrote a blog post about the change to referral information in Google Analytics and as it's been 8 months since that post I thought it was a subject worth revisiting – especially as we now have some real world data on how this looks.
To recap quickly (not provided) in Google Analytics is where someone has conducted a search in Google but the keyword phrase they searched for has not been included: it could be a brand search or it could be a non-brand search, you don’t know.
Initially, Google had indicated that the percentage of (not provided) keywords affected would be less than 10% (i.e. single digit) and, at the time, a lot of people were sceptical.
Looking at some Google data on PracticeWEB sites, ranging from 80 to 20,000 search visits a month, the percentage of (not provided) is between 13% and 17.6% - much, much higher than Google predicted.
At a recent SEO conference I attended, when asked whether Google had done this with an individual’s privacy in mind not one person indicated they thought this was the case – mainly because you still get keyword data from Pay per Click traffic.
While this doesn’t look great it’s worth bearing in mind that analytics is about trends rather than absolutes, and the better news is that while it’s a significant loss we still have over 80% of the keyword data available to us. Which is more than enough to do some really good user journey analysis with.
If you’d like to know more I’m running a Google Analytics webinar on the 31st May from 11am to 12pm where I’ll be talking through the dashboard and showing some reports I normally run to get a good feel for a site.
We’re also running a series of free Strategies for Success workshops all-round the country looking at defining value, design and measuring success.
By Gareth Beck