7 Ways To Stop Freaking Out & Deal With (not provided)

SEO Oct 2, 2013


Shock! Panic! Mayhem!

The SEO Armageddon has surely arrived!

How many letters in Google? That’s right, 6!

The number of the beast is 666!

Oh, the horror!

Not really, let’s be serious for a moment…

At the time of writing this, we have all hopefully recovered from our initial shock, horror, and panic over Google’s move to making all searches secure — and thus plastering (not provided) all over our Analytics accounts in one fell swoop.

Now, worth to note is that this is true except for ad clicks. 

I’m going to speculate that this has nothing to do with NSA trickery but everything to do with Google wanting to make (even more) money from their advertising operations.

That’s cool and all — they’re, after all, a business and businesses need to generate a steady stream of dollars coming in and going out in order to function and exist.

Google has never been a non-profit organization, and we should count ourselves lucky that we have so much access to so many really cool tools.

In their benevolence, they’ve kept on bestowing good gifts unto their subjects (like you and me).

But their generosity seems to have found its reach and we’re now faced with an ever increasing stream of (not provided) showing up when we try to correlate keywords with traffic with profits with rankings with on-site optimization with content with…

…Well, you get the point.

We’ve lost access to valuable data that has helped us SEOs tweak, test, and optimize our efforts for maximum results.

So how can we make up for this loss of data? What can we do to still glean insights and revelation from our Analytics?

Here Are A Bunch Of Quick Tips To Make Up For Your Loss

Sure, it’s not as easy as simply clicking through your Analytics account and getting the data right away, and not one of these steps alone will make up for everything.

But if you use a handful of them, you will still be able to learn something about your traffic and keywords.

So, let’s get crackin’ on ways you can still squeeze out value and workarounds for losing all those keywords.

All is not lost!

1. Make Use Of Google Webmaster Tools

Since you’re a smart enough SEO’er to be reading this, obviously you’ve already signed up for GWT. (right?)

Head over to Search Traffic > Search Queries and you’ll find that it even includes data from those pesky encrypted searches.

It’s not as advanced, and searches only go back about 90 days, so make it a habit to check it every, say, 30 days or so and export the data.

A nice cherry-on-top is the impressions vs. clicks data that it shows.

2. Look At Other Search Engine Traffic, Like Bing

Yeah, yeah, yeah — I know, what could Bing possibly tell you, right? You might not even be signed up with Bing Webmaster Tools but take this as an opportunity to do so.

Just add this to your list of sources to check for and analyze referral traffic and keywords.

3. Capture And Analyze Your Website Searches

Please tell me you’re capturing any website (on-site) searches by your visitors? Okay, good (and if you’re not, do yourself the favor and get on this).

Yeah, it will tell you what keywords people are using and these phrases will tell you what content needs to be created.

4. Give In And Use Google AdWords

As for now, you’ll get full keyword referral data from Google if you’re plucking down cash to make use of their advertising network. Will this change? Who knows but milk that cow while it’s still here.

You can determine the value and conversions of keywords and test them before you try to rank organically.

Sure, you still don’t get any organic referral data but you can use AdWords to make better decisions about what keywords to pursue if you test them for visitor behavior and conversions.

5. Look At History And Trends

Your old data, prior to this switch, will still be available. Now would be a good time to really analyze it and check for what’s been performing well over a period of time, as well as picking up on any seasonal changes (keywords and content that perform well at different times).

6. Use A (not provided) Profile Filter

Some smart people have created filters that shows you what pages visitors/searchers land on, from which you can derive an idea of topics and content they’re searching for — as well as which pages are ranking, when you think about it.

This is useful for discovering content topics for traffic generation and deciding on optimization.

This filter replaces the “(not provided)” with a “NP – [Landing Page URL]” but cannot be applied retroactively, unfortunately.

Also, you should set this up under its own separate profile.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Create a new View/Profile.
  2. Click “Admin”, upper right-hand corner.
  3. In the right column, select the View you want the filter applied to.
  4. Click “Filters.”
  5. Click the “New Filter” button.
  6. Give it a name.
  7. Select “Custom Filter.”
  8. Click the “Advanced” radio button.
  9. Next to “Field A -> Extract A,” select “Campaign Term” from the drop down, and then type (.not provided.) into the field.
  10. Next to “Field B -> Extract B,” select “Request URI” from the drop down, and then type (.*) into the field.
  11. Next to “Output To -> Constructor,” select “Campaign Term” from the drop down, and type np – $B1.
  12. Select the “Yes” radio button for “Field A Required,” “Field B Required” and “Override Output Field.”
  13. Select “No” for “Case Sensitive.”
  14. Hit the save button at the bottom.

There, you’ll start seeing the “np – [landing page URL] pop up after a few hours.

7. Use A (not provided) Custom Report

You can add this Custom Report by simply clicking here and adding it to the profile of your choice.

It’s similar to a Profile/View filter, in that it not just shows the landing pages but also average time on page, average visit duration, pages per visits, bounce rate, unique visitors, and visits.

With the data on visitor behavior and engagement, you should be able to glean some insight for evaluating optimization and discovering content topics to pursue or expand on.

Now That You’ve Taken The Chill Pill…

See, it’s not that bad, right?

There are plenty of other handy tips spreading across the web on how you can make up for this loss of data.

Basically, all you’ve really lost is the quick and easy way of evaluating keyword data as it pertains to your site, content, rankings, and traffic.

Sure, this makes things harder and trickier, but there are workarounds that you can still use.

Will anything be as effective? No, you just have to fetch similar data from other places.

Is SEO dead? No, because the work to rank websites still remains the same.

Is it dealt a crippling blow? Maybe, maybe not. We’ll see what the next 6 months have in store, as everyone is scrambling.

At a crisis like this, though, there are bound to be opportunities.

What are you doing to deal with this dramatic change from Google?

One response
  1. Avatar

    Great Post !!!

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