Since last March, Google France placed its search engine results’ pages in secure mode. The consequences of this decision have been the continuous increase in the number of non provided keywords. Google no longer provides keywords used by Internet users who are logged on to their Google account. In addition to this, since last July, Firefox also introduced secure searches on its browser from version 14 onwards.
This has been a massive change for SEO and the way in which search engine activity is monitored. A large part of the information which is necessary to analysing search engine traffic has been lost. There are different ways to overcome the effects of this change by using the entry page analysis as explained in this blog post on Google (not provided keywords).
Furthermore, removing the “not provided” keywords has had a negative effect on the brand awareness source. As the phenomenon of “not provided” keywords becomes more widespread, the brand awareness source becomes less and less important. If you have set up your brand awareness analyses and have noticed a decrease in your brand awareness traffic then you should read the rest of this article.
How has my site been affected since the introduction of the “not provided” keywords?
The best way to find out if your site has been impacted by the change is to go directly to the Traffic Sources > Search engines > Keywords analysis in your AT Internet web analytics solution.
Select the period of the year to be analysed and study the evolution of the keyword [-] over the period that you have chosen. The line chart will certainly be showing an upward trend since the month of March.
Use the ratio to find out the visit share for this type of keyword.
The keywords entered by Internet users cannot be revealed. They have well and truly been lost.
Does my site have more “not provided” keywords than other sites?
The AT Internet Surveys department provides an overview of the developments of undetermined requests on sites audited by AT Internet on a regular basis. The latest study on “not provided” keywords shows that at the end of summer 2012 in France alone, more than a quarter of search queries made on Google were with “not provided” keywords. The following chart shows the increasing share of visits coming from Google where the keyword is not provided for French websites, measured by AT Internet’s web analytics solution.
To keep up to date with the latest developments of the visit shares and to receive alerts on the publication of new studies on “not provided” keywords, follow us on Twitter, @AT_Surveys.
Why do “not provided” keywords affect the brand awareness source?
The brand awareness source allows you to process keywords from expressions associated with your company’s brand awareness. By using this feature, all of the keywords containing the name of your company, brand and products will be isolated and stored in a dedicated section. The effectiveness and efficiency of this source are associated more with your company’s communication policy than your SEO. Only generic expressions will appear in the following source: Traffic Sources > Search engines > Keywords.
Whenever a keyword is not provided by Google, it is impossible to find out whether the search made refers to your brand or if it is part of a generic expression. The visit is stored in Traffic Sources > Search engines > Keywords [-]. The increase in the number of “not provided” keywords provides the search engines source with more so-called brand awareness keywords, taking them away from the brand awareness source. Brand awareness traffic also decreases because part of the traffic is not recognised.
This might make us think that there is a decrease in brand awareness traffic whereas this is actually not the case. Some of the brand awareness traffic has been transferred over to the search engine traffic.
Is there a solution which can be used to overcome this loss of information as a result of the “not provided” keywords?
Yes, a solution does exist. It involves giving an estimate of the brand awareness traffic that has been included as part of the “not provided” keyword traffic.
The following hypothesis must be made:
The share of brand awareness visits from all visits generated by “not provided” keywords is identical to the share of brand awareness visits from all visits generated by “provided” keywords.
First of all you need to gather the following information from your web analytics tool:
- The number of visits coming from Google in the Brand Awareness source
- The number of visits coming from Google in the Search Engines source
- The number of keyword [-] visits coming from Google
|Let’s consider the following example:
*The number of visits coming from Google in the Brand Awareness source: 2,000
In order to work out the total number of visits generated by “provided” keywords coming from Google, the number of keyword [-] visits coming from Google must be subtracted from the total number of visits coming from the search engine:
Total number of visits coming from Google: 4,000 + 2,000 = 6,000
Number of keyword [-] visits coming from Google: 1,000
Total number of visits generated by “provided” keywords coming from Google:
6,000 – 1,000 = 5,000
Therefore the brand awareness visit share from all “provided” keywords:
2,000/5,000 x 100 = 40%.
According to the hypothesis stated earlier the same percentage can be applied to the number of keyword [-] visits to give an estimate of the number of brand awareness visits coming from “not provided” keywords:
40/100 x 1,000 = 400.
By adding the number of visits from the brand awareness source (2,000) to the number of Brand awareness visits from “not provided” keywords (400), we are able to work out an estimate for the total number of brand awareness visits:
2,000 + 400 =2,400.
On the other hand, it is also possible to work out an estimate for search engine traffic. You need to subtract the number of brand awareness visits from “not provided” keywords (400) from the total number of visits from the Search Engines source (4,000):
4,000 – 400 = 3,600.
In this way you will be able to deal with the impact that the “not provided” keywords have had on the brand awareness source, and will also be able to put the continuous decrease in traffic to your site coming from the brand awareness source into perspective.
Nevertheless, the information lost from keywords is extremely detrimental to Web Analytics professionals. Keywords entered into search engines reveal what prospects are worried about and the problems they would like to resolve. However, web analysts have less information available on their prospects to give to marketing teams.
There is one analysis that may make up for the loss of information on Internet user intentions: the keywords entered into your own website’s search engine. Here, no-one will remove the keywords. As a result of removing the “not provided” keywords you will have to tag your internal search engine.