Where’s all my search engine keywords?

You’ve probably noticed over the past few months that when you check your keywords be it in SmarterStats (the web analytics package we include for free with all windows cloud hosting plans) or in Google Analytics (the wildly popular free analytics package from Google) you’re seeing an increasingly high number of “not provided” keywords in your keywords report.  Well, I have bad news, that number is only going to increase.

So What’s Happening?

Recently Google made two huge announcements, one was a algorithm update named ‘hummingbird’ and the other that they were moving to 100% secure search.  You see back in 2011 Google first introduced “secure search” and over time they’ve gradually increased the number of users that were ‘secured’.  So with this announcement they are opening that up and it’s simply going away. 

Why did Google do this?

Privacy. Your privacy in particular.  By restricting this data and encrypting it in the referral string they’re not letting people know what you searched for? 

Is this a bad thing?

Whether or not this is a bad thing depends on if you’re the one searching or if you’re the one trying to figure out what someone searched for.  In my view though, it’s a good thing.  With all of the fuss around the NSA and PRISM, this is a way of saying “We care about your privacy”.  It’s also good in that for the last 13 years people have been focused on SEO strategy and what can I do to trick the search engines so that my pages rank highest for these keywords.  Now online marketers have to focus on content creation and attracting visitors with good content.   Think about how many times you did a search in google, clicked on the first listing and found it to be a total garbage website with jibberish and ultimately just trying to sell you something other than what you were looking for.  This will hopefully curtail that.

Can I still see my keyword data?

Absolutely! Google is making it available as part of their webmaster tools and other search engines like Bing haven’t done this yet so that information is available there as well.  There’s also a number of great tools out there like spyfu.com and moz.com that do a great job of tracking your keyword rankings for you.  There’s also services like semrush.com that don’t rely on Google’s keyword data to provide you keyword information so you can still look for the good keywords you want to target next.

What’s this all mean?

It means change and although change is often painful once the wounds heal you find that you’re stronger and better as a result. This is surely one such change. If you want to learn more about this change I recommend this article: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2298881/What-Not-Provided-Google-Hummingbird-Mean-for-Small-Business-SEO

About the Author

Jess Coburn

It's Jess's responsibility as CEO and Founder of Applied Innovations to set the direction of Applied Innovations services to ensure that as a company we're consistently meeting the needs of our customers to help drive their success. In his spare time, Jess enjoys many of the things that made him a geek to begin with. That includes sexy new hardware, learning new technology and even a videogame or two! When you can’t find him at the office (which admittedly is rare), you’ll likely find him at the grill or in front of his smoker getting ready for some lip-smacking ribs to enjoy with his wife and two kids.

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