As long as people use words to communicate with search engines, keywords will have value, which is why Google’s decision to stop sharing keyword data can be frustrating. Whether you’re new to SEO and struggling with (not provided) for the first time, or you’re a seasoned pro who is accustomed to trying to work with other data—I have good news.
You can have your (not provided) keyword data back.
On September 23, 2013, Google announced they would be using secure sockets layer (SSL) encrypted search for all users. It was the beginning of the (not-provided) keywords. Where marketers used to be able to see which keywords led traffic to their sites, we started to see “(not provided)” instead.
Keyword data was no longer available, and that had a major impact on SEO performance and strategy.
Some marketers turned to other metrics to drive their SEO strategies and justify their budgets, but most of those alternatives are insufficient. The only metrics that CMOs and business owners want to see are those that help them achieve their business goals. The total number of organic visits available in most analytics tools isn’t one of them.
Organic traffic splits into two major segments: branded and non-branded organic traffic.
To measure, predict, and improve SEO performance, you have to access non-branded organic traffic. Why?
Unfortunately, this branded vs non-branded segmentation is no longer available in Google Analytics.
As a consequence, marketers have started to rely more on other metrics (some of them misleading), like keyword ranking or the total number of organic visits. Ranking and the website’s overall visibility in search engines are indicators of a campaign’s progress, but don’t help marketers understand how SEO performance actually impacts the bottom line.
The most reliable solution for reclaiming this data is to merge Google Analytics and Google Search Console data:
The API available for both tools enables you to extract the data. The next step is to combine the information through a simple automation. You can do this in-house, with the help of a programmer, or you can use SEOmonitor.
Our tool automatically discloses the (not-provided) data on a daily basis, giving you all the information you need about the keywords that brought traffic and conversions.
There are other suggested methods out there, but none of them is as accurate and reliable as combining the data from these two Google tools.
Imagine the kind of SEO results you could drive with your keyword data restored. Imagine not having to guess which terms are driving traffic to your site, or which phrases are leading to higher conversions. Imagine having real, substantial data to bring to the C-suite and to improve your SEO strategy.
Set up your Search Console and Analytics and give it a try. If it’s helpful, you can explore how to best continue developing that reporting. If it’s not … well, how could it not be helpful?
Cosmin Negrescu (@ncosmin) is the Founder and CEO of SEOmonitor, and a prolific speaker. He lives in Bucharest, Romania, with his wife, and was recently featured as one of Fortune Romania’s 30 Under 30 for 2016.