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What is Google’s (Not Provided) Keyword? And How Can You Get Around It?

 Renew Marketing    Analytics

What is Google’s (Not Provided) Keyword? And How Can You Get Around It?

Two years ago, web developers started to notice something funny about their keyword research: a keyword called (not provided) was slipping into their Google Analytics results.

At first, the hidden keyword (not provided) only accounted for a small percentage of search results. Over time, however, that number has steadily grown. Today, for most websites, (not provided) is the number one way in which searchers are visiting the site.

But what does that hidden keyword actually mean? And how can you get around Google’s keyword masking in order to improve organic SEO results? Here are the answers you’ve been waiting for.

Why (not provided) shows up

(Not provided) is Google’s way of saying that it doesn’t want you to see incoming keyword data for your website. It doesn’t mean that searchers are using some secret term to constantly arrive at your website. Instead, (not provided) simply takes the place of thousands of keywords that searchers used to arrive at your website.

Why does (not provided) show up? Two years ago, Google started hiding search results performed by anybody who was signed into their Google account. That’s when a small percentage of (not provided) searches began to appear. Early in 2013, Google expanded its search encryption to all Chrome users, which is when (not provided) results took an even bigger leap upward.

The future of (not provided)

(Not provided) has only got bigger and bigger over the years. But according to many analyst predictions, Google is only a few months away from encrypting all search results. In other words, (not provided) will go from 25% of your daily incoming search traffic to a whopping 100%. Obviously, that’s just the search traffic you receive from Google, but that will still be a sizable chunk of your search traffic.

Google has basically confirmed that they will hide all search data in the near future while only showing Analytics users the search traffic from ad clicks.

That’s bad news for the SEO industry and anybody who depends on organic SEO for traffic. It will make increasing organic website traffic more difficult than ever before.

What you can do about it

The “SEO is dead” argument has been going on for several years. According to some, the increase of (not provided) search results is yet another nail in SEO’s coffin – perhaps even the final one.

But that’s simply not true. Here are some things to do about the (not provided) search results:

-Look at your search engine ranking for high-value keywords: You won’t be able to see how many people arrive at your website using a certain keyword, but you will be able to view your website’s ranking for that keyword. Look at your website’s ranking for certain high-value keywords and manage your SEO campaign based on those results.

-Look at impressions and click-through-rate: Google Webmaster Tools lets you see which percentage of users click on your site after searching for a particular term and seeing your site in search results. Optimize click-through-rate to improve your site’s influence.

Look at Bing traffic with Bing Webmaster tools: Google accounts for the majority of website search traffic. However, Bing is estimated to account for between 15% to 25% of all online searches performed today. If Google does completely switch to the (not provided) model, then Bing Webmaster Tools will be able to provide similar keyword results.

Yes, the increase of (not provided) search results is annoying. But it’s not the death of SEO as we know it. At worst, keyword research will become harder to perform. But SEO in Dallas is certainly a long ways away from its death. Talk to us today if you want to schedule a free consultation session.