[How To] Claw Back Google’s Keywords (Not Provided)

question_mark_800_clr_6816 A hot topic among online marketers today, and especially SEOs, is Google’s move to block all keyword data from showing up in its Analytics product.

Under the guise of “protecting privacy”, it’s predicted that Google will make all natural search keywords “Not Provided” within the coming few months.

Google has come under heavy scrutiny and criticism about its double standards especially as it will still provide these same keywords to advertisers who pay to get them.

The search giant has also been accused of utilizing its monopoly to strong-arm businesses into investing into the Adwords program (its main source of income).

Putting aside Google’s intentions, here are 5 ways to try and claw back some of this valuable keyword data from other sources:

1- Google Analytics

Back in 2011, when Google first started hiding keyword data, Avinash Kaushik – Google’s Digital Evangelist – wrote this excellent guide on how to make the loss of Google keyword data less painful.  The guide includes some handy dashboards to download straight into your Analytics console.

2- Internal Search

Another excellent source of keyword data and one of the most under-utilized keyword insight assets is your very own internal search engine (provided you have one!) The keyword data and insights from your internal search can somewhat  mirror the keyword data provided by Google (after all, they are the same visitors). While you’re at it, ensure that you’ve set-up Google Analytics to provide you with the necessary internal search data insights.

3- Other Search Engines

While not as abundant, you can still get keyword data from other search engines such as Bing.

If you’re good at excel, you can also manage to compare 2 sets of data utilizing the url as a constant to claw back some of Google’s lost data.

4- Google Webmaster Tools

Google has been kind enough to still provide some keyword data (impressions and clicks) via its Webmaster Tools (WMT) console.  More on it here. It’s not as accurate as Analytics, but WMT  still provides some good data that can help you make sense of the type and effectiveness of keywords utilised to arrive at your site.  Currently the data goes back 3 months and there are rumours that Google will pull the plug on it too.

5- Google Adwords Data

Last but not least, and as much as you’d probably like to stay away from it, I’m afraid it’s unavoidable.  To truly get valuable insights into the keywords your visitors are using to find your site, you’ll have to invest in Google Adwords campaigns.

Make sure that you’ve set up your reporting to segregate SEO from PPC traffic.

Final Note:

The above are just ideas, as savvy marketers, you should be able to utilize some or all of the above ideas, combine them with other tools on the market such as keyword research and rank checking tools as well as Google’s very own keyword planner and insights for search to claw back keyword insights to report back to your client/boss about the effectiveness of your SEO efforts.

Over to you…

What do you think of Google’s decision to hide keyword data from marketers, is it warranted?  What tools and methods do you use to claw back this valuable data?  Share your thoughts and tips…

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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