Keyword (Not Provided)? No Problem. MacGyver SEO

Google recently announced it would cease reporting organic keyword data to all Analytics packages. 100% of keyword searches from Google will be locked behind “secure search.” This change put many Search Engine Optimization gurus in a frenzy. 

Why? As those familiar with Google Analytics will attest, this once previously gold mine of useful information is now ambiguously reported as (not provided). Google claims it made this decision in the interests of privacy, a claim many believe is dubious. The merits of Google’s decision can be debated; however, for marketers a better question to ruminate on is what to do about it. How can we recover the missing data left behind by the “not provided” phenomenon?

At Bridgeline, we like to say the best defense is a good offense. This situation is no different. The first step is to concentrate on what KPI’s ARE AVAILABLE. Much like the television show "MacGuyver," we can make the SEO equivalent of fire with a mothball, a toothpick and a magnifying glass. First, we need to take an inventory of what KPI’s we have to work with.

KPI Inventory:

• Keyword data from your Google Analytics (GA) history (or other analytics package of choice)
• Query Data from Google Webmaster Tools (GWT)
• Google’s Keyword Planner
• Rank Data
• Keyword data from Bing/Yahoo, Ranking data
• Landing page visit data
• PPC data (when applicable)
• Other data aggregation tools

Using these known quantities, marketers can build out data scenarios to generate reliable models to re-constitute Google keyword traffic. This process could be as simple as tracking keyword ranks in Google’s SERPs and using historical Google SERP CTR data for given rank positions to project traffic.

Alternatively, as historical Google CTR data becomes increasingly stale, marketers can introduce data from GWT or even Bing to tabulate traffic counts for key phrases.  These are just a few of the many data modeling options available.

The advent of 100% (Not Provided) is a challenge for digital strategists, but it is also an opportunity. It is an opportunity to build better data models, identify new methods of reporting KPI’s  and deliver better data to our clients whether they are external or internal within organizations.

Channel your inner MacGuyver.  How would you combat “Not Provided?” Let us know on Twitter!

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