On 18 October 2011 an announcement was made on the Google Analytics blog introducing a method to make search data more secure.
Buried in this seemingly innocuous announcement were four consequences:
- Web site visit data analysts would have their data and their very livelihoods questioned
- Any SEO efforts by small firms would be shoved back into the dark ages with the lack of concrete proof
- Small sites relying on keyword data to support advertising sales (like MyPE) would have to find another support mechanism
- Google would give access to the data via a premium version of their Google Analytics product and at a hefty flat fee of $150 000.00
Based on the above one could reasonably expect a number of advertisers to move their adspend to Google and a rise in pricing by other web sites.
The post said:
As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, particularly for signed in users, we believe that protecting these personalized search results is important. As part of that effort, today the Google Search team announced that SSL Search on https://www.google.com will become the default experience for signed in users on Google.com. Protecting user privacy is important to us, and we want to take this opportunity to explain what the Google Analytics team is doing to help you continue measuring your website effectively in light of these changes.
When a signed in user visits your site from an organic Google search, all web analytics services, including Google Analytics, will continue to recognize the visit as Google “organic” search, but will no longer report the query terms that the user searched on to reach your site. Keep in mind that the change will affect only a minority of your traffic. You will continue to see aggregate query data with no change, including visits from users who aren’t signed in and visits from Google “cpc”.
In effect what has been happening since 19 October 2011 is that for any person signed into any Google Account that searches for anything and lands on any web site Google will pass those keywords used as (not provided). BUT, if any user, whether signed into Google or not, clicks on a Google Advertisment the full query data will be passed on.
How does this affect the user of MyPE?
- We use the keyword data to monitor and ensure that we are providing a great and focussed product.
- We monitor the keyword trends in an attempt to provide even more relevant content and solutions.
- We use the keyword data to show potential advertisers our relevance to the community in which we find ourselves – more advertisers means a better and continuing free experience for our visitors, along with a valuable community resource.
Sadly, if we look at our keyword data from Google Analytics for the period 19 October 2011 to 30 April 2012 we notice a DISTURBING trend: Of the 472 628 visits sent to MyPE by Google, 20 775 are reflected as (not provided). I will admit that this is within the less than 10% of searches prediction by Google BUT, the roll out of https to international sites was after 19 October so I predict that this trend will accelerate.
Some international sites report that close to 40% of their keyword data shows (not provided).
Anyone have a spare $150 000.00 for ‘lil ol’ MyPE?
All is not lost though as I found a couple of interesting hacks:
- Econsultancy: How to steal some ‘not provided’ data back from Google – Google’s recent introduction of SSL encryption for search queries from logged in users means that a lot of valuable data has now gone missing from Google Analytics. This post explains a useful Google Analytics hack to regain some of the insight we used to have, and improve life for you in light of the ‘(not provided)’ issue.
- Search Engine Watch: Recovering (Not Provided) Keyword Data – There seems to be a school of thought that Google Webmaster Tool data is useless and inaccurate. General bugginess, delayed reports, showing average position in search results, and rounding numbers has led to many disregarding the search query report in frustration.
See what other respected sites say about (not provided):
- Search Engine Land: Google’s (Not Provided) Impacting More Than Just SEO Sites – Keywords were hidden in 29 percent of searches in April. That’s up from 22.5 percent in November, shortly after the change was made. Now “(not provided)” makes up the largest category of search terms, dwarfing the second place term: Poynter. Overall, 6 percent of inbound traffic now comes from a black box.
- Search Engine Journal: Premium Google Analytics with a Premium Price Tag – The price tag, which is a hefty $150,000 per year, will discourage the majority of Google Analytics users from changing over to the Google Analytics Premium service.
See if you can find your business in the Top 100 Search Engine keywords list below:
(not provided): 20 775
mype: 2 312
my pe: 1 199
cousins dvd: 1 040
shelf company warehouse: 875
incredible connection port elizabeth: 754
the herald: 680
alexander road high school: 655
weekend post: 627
cipro contact details: 601
autostyling port elizabeth: 566
waltons port elizabeth: 501
cubata port elizabeth: 485
home affairs port elizabeth: 439
autostyling pe: 437
medicus shoes: 432
herald online: 407
pe technologies: 403
rafi’s appliances: 385
brian bands: 363
rafi’s port elizabeth: 363
victoria house imports: 353
die son port elizabeth: 349
nelson mandela: 349
dischem port elizabeth: 345
umhlobo wenene: 344
josh groban port elizabeth: 332
livingstone hospital: 331
toys r us port elizabeth: 321
rbs computers: 312
die burger port elizabeth: 299
merino butchery: 299
concept wheels: 288
bliss hair port elizabeth: 281
bantu church of christ: 278
reggies port elizabeth: 276
pick n pay hyper port elizabeth: 274
builders express port elizabeth: 273
provincial hospital port elizabeth: 271
cousins dvd mount pleasant: 265
big bucks port elizabeth: 264
solar flares today: 260
pearson high school: 257
algoa steel: 255
cipro company search: 254
mercantile hospital: 244
plastic rebuilders port elizabeth: 244
yamaha port elizabeth: 244
teletek port elizabeth: 241
yellow pages port elizabeth south africa: 239
builders warehouse port elizabeth: 236
goldwagen port elizabeth: 235
parmalat port elizabeth: 230
balizza port elizabeth: 229
sanca port elizabeth: 228
african bank port elizabeth: 223
the herald online: 221
victoria house: 221
concept wheels port elizabeth: 220
ztel communications: 219
katz camera world: 216
auto motorcycles: 212
livingstone hospital port elizabeth: 212
makro pe: 211
shelf companies for sale: 206
bliss port elizabeth: 205
dermatologist port elizabeth: 205
alexander road high school port elizabeth: 204
wedding dresses port elizabeth: 204
schools in port elizabeth: 202
dial a bed port elizabeth: 200
van schaik port elizabeth: 200
the baking tin port elizabeth: 195
pick n pay hypermarket port elizabeth: 194
wedding venues port elizabeth: 192
beachview resort: 191
wendy houses port elizabeth: 188
ep kings: 185
port elizabeth: 184
xerox port elizabeth: 184
eastern cape motors: 180
donkin fans: 179
jumping castles port elizabeth: 178
reeva steenkamp: 177
shelf cc for sale: 176
baby boom port elizabeth: 174
mr tint port elizabeth: 172
driving schools in port elizabeth: 170
photographers in port elizabeth: 169
greenfingers port elizabeth: 168
The number of search queries is after each term.