Got Hit by “Not Provided”? Grab Your Organic Keyword Data!

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Last year was very thrilling for Google as the company updated many of their products. We’ve seen some tools like Google Reader being shut-down and we’ve seen many improvements made to the existing ones. Most of Google’s income comes from the search engine, so it wasn’t a surprise that many of those updates concerned Google’s foremost product.

Google Updates

Penguin 2.1

Google revealed search algorithm updates aimed at eliminating spam from the results page and minimizing its impact on provided results. As search engines became more competitive, many companies adopted a strategy based on gaming search engine algorithms and used techniques forbidden by Google webmaster guidelines. They quickly felt the consequences. Penguin Update 2.1 resulted in a significant drop in rankings for business who bought links or acquired them using spammy techniques.

Although Google released a disavow tool, which was supposed to help those marketers who were hit by the update, there are hardly any examples available which show the tool actually works.

(Not Provided)

Lately, Google hit marketers around the world with another update. This time it concerned their web analytics product – Google Analytics. More and more organic keyword data became unavailable for site owners, as ‘not provided’ count was growing.

Not provided count growth

Screenshot taken 16/12/2013 of Google Analytics owned account

Encrypted Google searches don’t pass the keyword data to websites. When someone performs a search on Google, it’s always done as SSL encrypted search. The moment Google moved entirely to the secure search, website owners, marketers and SEO experts were cut off their organics keyword data for good.

From a privacy perspective, it’s good that Google made the change. On the other hand, website owners and marketers, despite the fact that the SEO community publish many articles about how to deal with not provided issue, became disoriented without the organic keyword data.

Historical Keyword Data – The Next Feature that Google Could Kill

Despite the fact that most of the new organic traffic that website receives is marked as “not provided,” marketers still have access to their historical data. But, it may not last for long. If all the keywords are not available in the nearest future, there will be no point of keeping organic keywords tab in Google Analytics. The next logical that Google could take, would be switching off the organic keywords tab as well.

Brace Yourself – Grab Your Keyword Data While You Still Can

In the situation where less and less data is being available, every piece of information could be crucial. The ability to check an archived data and analyze the previous organic keyword performance is essential for any marketer or SEO professional.

How to Backup Organic Keywords Data

My company, Positionly provides a small organic keyword backup tool. It will help you download your entire organic keyword data history within seconds and back it up in clean spreadsheet file.

You can also export your organic keywords historical data from/within your Google Analytics account. Bear in mind that the data you can export is limited which, in turn, can be troublesome for anyone who has a lot of keywords used for ranking.

Final Thoughts

Although Google provides it’s users with great products, the updates they introduce have a big impact on the business landscape. The impact is not always positive. This is especially true for the SEO industry.  For Google, these changes are a win-win situation. SERPs will provide better results with less spam. Companies who have been hit by the search algorithm update will go towards AdWords as a natural source to compensate for their traffic loss.

Unfortunately, we are obliged to play by Google’s rules if we want to succeed online. If your business rely heavily on Google, being an agile marketer means having eyes wide open for it’s next moves.

Krystian Włodarczyk

Krystian Włodarczyk

Internet Marketing Manager at Positionly
Krystian is a Marketing Manager at Positionly - the simplest SEO software. Personally he's keen on startups and passionate about SEM. Feel free to reach out to him on Twitter, Google+ or Linkedin.
Krystian Włodarczyk
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  • Daniel Sanchez

    You can still get keyword clicks and impressions from Google Webmaster Tools:

    • Krystian Włodarczyk

      Hey Daniel,

      That’s correct, but I don’t think that GWT are as accurate as Google Analytics was. Google has no particular interest in providing organic keyword data to SEOs, especially when it was once taken away. In my opinion Google Webmaster Tools gives you a point of reference, but is not a source of data you could heavily rely on.

      • Milena Szałacka

        From my point of view historical keywords are not accurate.
        If a website has not changed at all that may be an option. We can’t forget that many websites have dynamic content. What is more, each day Internet users look for new things. For instance, phrases like “Content marketing” or even “social media” are relatively new. While we analyze old data, we might wake up one day and realize that we are behind our competitors.
        This phenomenon is seen on e-commerce sites. Historical keywords are especially harmful for e-shops. Actions based on old data can drastically lower their income.

      • Daniel Sanchez

        Hey Krystian,

        I totally agree that GWT is quite inaccurate and it is better used as a point of reference, but I decided to drop that tidbit for other webmasters because I know that in a world of not provided every little bit helps. (^_^)

      • Brad Fogel

        Krystian, there have been numerous updates on this in that the GWT gives more accurate data than it used to: “Google is now showing the exact number, they are no longer rounding your search query data to a ’round’ number. This now gives you the exact impressions and clicks for a given keyword or page on a specific date or within a specific date range.” ( Sure, there may be a lag on keyword data and some small discrepancies (numbers no longer rounded in GWT) but there will always be some slight differences on why data does not match. Another article is here: Just thought these were some good references also on why GWT may not be all that bad. -Brad

  • Brad Fogel

    ….or you could just use your Google Webmaster tools to get your website data.

  • John M. Ramsay

    I am beginning to feel that Google is trying to replace Analytics with a more robust Webmaster Tools. I also have an onsite plugin to track analytics and none of the data adds up.

  • kundan bora

    WBT helps a lot in a way, That you get to know what keyword have what kind of response. Click and impression. In the recent updates. WBT is claiming to show more accurate results. What you say a Krystian Włodarczyk.