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A Massive Change In Google Analytics You Need to Know About As A Business Owner

Written by Rikki Lear

25 | 09 | 13

Analytics  |  
3 minute read

For all business owners looking to improve online Google Analytics is likely to be the source of your performance indicators. Looking on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis at your traffic sources and keyword data is a must to understand how your customers are finding your website and if your marketing methods are giving you a ROI. Well, a huge part of this has just changed…

Google has decided that it will no longer provide you with keyword data from Google searches in Analytics. Although moves were made by Google to hide some of the data two years ago it was indicated at the time that this would only effect a single digit of searchers and therefore the impact would be minimal, now however this is going to be 100% of searchers – i.e. you will not be able to see what people have searched for in Google to find your website.

Privacy of the searcher is claimed to be Google’s reason for doing this as Google are going to encrypt all search data for all users, this has been the case for people who are logged into a Google account for some time but now it will be done regardless. Of course out of this move conspiracy theories have arisen that this move by Google is to force more people into spending with Adwords and / or indicates a launch of another premium Analytics service, but for now all we really know is that the data will be gone.

In the past you may have used this keyword data to find out the answers below therefore we are going to provide you with some solutions so you can still answer these questions:

  • What keywords are working well for us?
  • What new keyword opportunities are there?
  • Is it branded or non branded (generic) keywords which are bringing our website traffic?

Although nothing is quite as good as seeing the previous data in Google Analytics here are our tips to still find out the answers:

What keywords are working well for us?

You can use rank tracking software to see where you are ranking for your keywords and most software will give you periodic updates on the performance of these keywords, i.e. have they increased or decreased. Combine this data with landing page data in Google Analytics (which will still be available) and you will be able to get a good sense of the content and keywords driving traffic to your site.

What new keyword opportunities are there?

Previously you could find keywords which were bringing you a little bit of traffic in Google Analytics and plan to improve them. Now you will need to use Adwords data even more than before for keywords research. The new Keyword Planning tool in Adwords provides you with keyword ideas so use your current target keywords and see what else they suggest, you can also see the search volume of these suggestions to give you an indication of what is worth going for.

Is it branded or non branded (generic) keywords which are bringing our website traffic?

For me personally this is what I am going to miss most. I love to show a customer not only an increase in organic search traffic, but also show them is it coming from generic keywords and not branded keywords which we don’t take credit for (after all it is your effective marketing and reputation that is bringing this traffic to the site!). To get a sense of your brand v non brand traffic you will need to utilise tools like Google Insights to look at the trend data of your branded terms, if the trend is increasing look at by how much and compare it to your organic traffic increase, although it won’t be exact comparing the trend increase to your overall increase should give a good understanding.

Are there are positives from this?

If you believe the privacy angle from Google then that is one, if not then from a practical sense there are no positives, however from a mind set point of view there may be one...

At Digital 22 we have always taken the approach to optimise your website ‘sitewide’, i.e. making every page on your site work for you, rather than focusing on one or two big keywords as some agencies and business owners do. We do this because it is a much more comprehensive and a better long term strategy, this is because we feel a lot of people get hung-up on the ‘glory keywords’ and forget that ranking for the medium and long tail keywords will often bring in multiple times more traffic than these keywords ever could. For now, at least, the overall impact of sitewide SEO can still be tracked by your organic search growth.

What do you think of this move by Google and is there anything else you are going to miss about not having keyword data (perhaps we can give you a workaround)?

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