The Loss of a Key Metric in Google Analytics and How It’s Helping Change SEO

About once a month a client will ask me “Melissa, where did all of my keywords go? Every month I read the report you send me and all of the keywords that used to send me traffic are gone!” I can’t tell you how painful this is for me to hear. Of course, what they are seeing (or not seeing) isn’t due to a decline in rankings, rather to Google’s introduction of the keyword (not provided) in Google Analytics.

Keyword Not Provided
For this client, nearly 13% of their total traffic, and 31% of their Google Organic traffic is due to keyword (not provided).

When Google launched the keyword (not provided) back in October 2011, businesses and marketers threw their hands up in the air and shouted “WHY!?!!?” Why did Google take away this key metric that allowed us to really understand how people are finding our website, and how do they expect us to improve our SEO now?

Well folks, SEO has changed – and it’s been changing for some time now, in fact. Pretty much since search engines first opened their doors. This is partially because the way people use search engines have changed – and the way people use search engines have changed because search engines have changed how they operate. Search engines have changed how they operate because technology and people’s needs have changed. And that’s because we (humans) are smart. We keep making new things – exciting things like handheld devices the size of a deck of cards that can access the internet from nearly anywhere we go.

Google (because let’s face it, when we talk about “major search engines” what we really mean to say is “Google”) has increased its demands on website owners and their marketing teams. It’s not good enough to simply write a bunch of text about who you are and what you do, nobody reads anymore! Google wants you to engage with people. Engage with them by giving them something interesting – by giving them something tactile – a photo gallery, a video, a button that says “PUSH ME” and makes something interesting happen. Give them a reason to find you interesting.

This means that the people that use Google Analytics to gage the effectiveness of their Internet Marketing efforts need to learn to understand the importance of other metrics in GA. Use event tracking, evaluate the number of pages people are landing on and viewing, how long they are spending on each page and your site on average – get creative. Dig around. There’s a lot to see in there besides the incredible shrinking keyword list.

Do you need help understanding your Google Analytics? Contact us to schedule a consultation.


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