‘(Not Provided)’ And The Impact On SEO Analysis And Optimization

Not provided has been steadily climbing over the last few years in Google Analytics. As far back as November of 2011 we started seeing the not provided data appearing within analytics reporting. Since that time, there has been a steady climb, now expected to be at 100% as a result of the recent changes in Google’s secure search. This has an impact on SEO optimization practices and on SEO reporting.

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Let’s take a look at some of the things that will change:

1.  SEO Optimization Changes

  • With a lack of keyword data, determining keyword level success shifts to page level success. Keyword strategies will still come into play, and reviewing third party ranking tools and webmaster tools results will assist in determining keyword and page level success. However, without specific keyword data easily tied into general website reporting, the concept of keyword level reporting and optimization will become increasingly challenging.
  • A renewed focus on content marketing has already guided strategy to looking into optimization at the page level. The content marketing, page level analysis, and optimization are only further propelled by the success reporting being shifted to the page level. Page level analysis will not be the only opportunity for optimization and success reporting, as other search engines have not yet gone to a secure search, not provided approach.

2.  The Impact On Reporting

  • Keyword reporting for SEO will be a thing of the past. There has already been a transition away from keyword reporting with a large percentage of keywords being see as not provided, the sample size and data for keywords was diminishing quickly.
  • The largest impact may be in understanding the impact and success of brand messaging, as the ratio of brand to non-brand keywords is a ratio we will no longer have insight into. The buzz around the office is around using paid search as a proxy for some of this data, however the success and correlation of PPC data to SEO traffic trends will be unknown without some sense of keyword data.

In summary, is it the end of the world? No. Will it change reporting? Yes. Does a change in reporting result in a change in success? No.

We will continue to find ways to optimize and improve with the metrics and dimensions we have available. Having a changing set of data is part of the fun of being in a rapidly changing environment.

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