Google’s “Keyword Not Provided”

SEO is a Challenge

Posted on October 15, 2013

As of September, 2013, Google has begun to encrypt 100% of the keyword data associated with organic search. This means all keywords originating from Google Search will show “<Not Provided>” or “Unknown search terms” in your statistics log instead of the keyword used to find your website.


Why is Google Doing This?

Google has announced that they’ve encrypted their Search service to enhance the security for their users. How this action enhances personal security is debatable. Some in the industry believe that this is Google’s response to undermine NSA tracking. Others speculate they’re attempting to push more businesses towards Adwords. Although the jury is still out on Google’s intentions, the fact still remains; life has become more complicated for us marketers.


Alternative Methods to Ascertain Visitor Keyword Data

The following are substitute tactics to help you know which keyword terms are used in Google Search to find your website.


20131015v2 Bing Webmaster Tools for KeywordsTrack Non-Google Keywords

Although Google controls 60-67% of all search traffic, 33-40% search traffic originates from other search engines. By reviewing keyword statics on non-Google referrals (i.e., Bing, Yahoo, Ask,..) you can continue to track keyword phrases; albeit, the number of keywords captured will be fewer. Now may be the time to register your site with Bing Webmaster tools in order to help optimize your site on Bing-enabled search engines.


20131015 Use Google Webmaster Tools for KeywordsUse Google Webmaster Tools

Currently, Google Webmaster Tools is the only reliable way to get keyword data from Google’s encrypted Search service. If your site isn’t already coupled with Google’s Webmaster Tools, then you should set it up. Google Webmaster Tools is a Google service designed to help manage websites; but, more importantly, it’s now the sole outlet to view unencrypted organic Google Search data (i.e. keyword terms). The drawback with this tool is that it just stores keyword data for the last 90 days. Be prepared to manually download keyword data (in .csv format) on a monthly basis. And what you do with that downloaded file is up to you.


20131015 Use Google Adwords to find keywordsUse Google Adwords

Advertisers still get full keyword data through this service. The caveat: there’s still no data for organic searches, and you’ll need to start paying for the service. Be aware, the price for Adwords could be cost prohibitive for many small businesses.


Watch the Stats on Keyword-centric Posts and Pages

Your website should already be logging statistics in Google Analytics on the popularity of pages and posts. Google Analytics ranks entry pages, those pages that visitors first land on. If keywords are used in the titles and are saturated within in the copy of those pages, the entry page statistics are dowsing rods for understanding the popularity your site’s keyword terms.

Here’s the downside… This method requires a large number of posts and pages for an accurate insight of what’s popular. So, start writing!

Written by Peter La Fond

Having lived most of his life in Northern California, Peter consults for organizations of all sizes on Internet marketing engagement, strategy and execution. He regularly speaks on website design techniques and WordPress. Peter is a graduate from California State University, Sacramento, and practices the ancient art of eating sushi with nose-hair-curling wasabi.

About My Internet Scout

Based in Wilmington, North Carolina, My Internet Scout, LLC is an Internet Marketing firm for small- and medium- size businesses. We specialize in WordPress website design, marketing and related services that include e-commerce, event registration, maintenance, content creation and search engine optimization (SEO). We service a variety of clients across the United States.

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