Organic Keyword Data: 100% Dead (not provided)



Recently we published an article on our blog about the increase of organic visits being attributed to (not provided). In that post, Chris Thompson uncovers data that shows how (not provided) has infectiously spread across our clients’ sites and, at the time of Chris’ post  in early August, 51% of visits to our clients sites were being attributed to (not provided), on average.

Today, all of this has changed. Again.

We knew the change was coming, it was just a matter of when and how fast Google would roll it out. The site (Not Provided) Count tracks 60 popular sites across a variety of industries with differing monthly traffic volumes. On August 24th, for these 60 sites, 47.19% of the keyword data was being tracked as (not provided). As of September 23, that number has increased to 73.93% and will continue to rise. At the beginning of August one of our clients had 71% of their data tied up in (not provided). Over the last four weeks this number has risen to 85.41%.

But this is where it gets interesting – While it has not officially been announced by Google, all search queries being run through the engine are now being handled securely. Regardless of whether you are logged into Google services or not, you will still be directed towards using the secure, https version of the site. Google has put a redirect into place preventing access to the original non-secure version of the search engine.

What does this mean?

It means that over the next few days and weeks, we can expect all forthcoming data to be bundled into (not provided) as encrypted searches do not pass keyword data. Ultimately, (not provided) will account for 100% of keyword data and we will lose visibility into the keywords customers are using to find our clients’ sites through organic search.

What can we do?

While this will present some challenges in the way we identify and segment the intent of site visitors, it does not change the way we target our audiences. Through keyword volume and marketing trending tools as well as cross channel collaborations with our paid search colleagues, we can still make determinations on the popularity of terms so they can be aligned properly to a clients’ products/services.

The direction Google has chosen (100% not provided) will provide an interesting space to work in, but our role as marketers hasn’t changed since the goal has always been to extend the reach of our clients’ business and put them in front of customers so they can not only increase the traffic to their site, but also connect with their customers at the right place and time. A loss of visibility into organic search query data does not change this goal, but rather places the emphasis on marketing rather than chasing your metaphorical tail (keywords).  Time to learn strategy and not just tactics SEO’s, welcome back to marketing!!!

Looking for a true digital “marketing” agency rooted in multi-channel strategy, planning, and management? Give us a call – 303.396.1111.