Posted: December 2, 2011
by Bjorn Carlson

About three weeks ago, Google Analytics made some changes to their analytics package, most of them user-experience oriented and rather inconsequential.  However, there was one small change they made on the Search side that will significantly impact businesses who are serious about their online marketing.  Most people will not notice until it’s too late.

For any business engaging in search engine optimization for keywords relative to their business, it is very important to know just how well those keywords are performing on your site and what kind of traffic each is sending to your website.  Until now, Google Analytics and other analytics packages have reported information on the specific keywords and phrases that send traffic to your website, but this small change to Google Search a few weeks ago means you will be flying blind as far as understanding the results of your SEO efforts.

We have been seeing that as much as 30% of our client’s non-brand related website traffic is now grouped into a “(not provided)” bucket in Google Analytics (see image).  These are the keywords relative to a company’s products and services, for which they have spent a lot of time and money competing to get ranked higher on Google – and they’re all hidden now.  So, if you are an Google Analytics analytics user, you now have no way to track and measure how well those keywords are performing and determine what changes you need to make in order to boost your search engine rankings, that is, of course, if you don’t want to spend the $150,000 annual fee to upgrade to Google Analytics Premium.  Ouch!!  This change appears to be made to the information Google sends to your website - due to "privacy policy" changes, they are no longer providing the keyword data to your website when someone clicks on your Search result.

There is good news though for businesses who are serious about the success of their SEO efforts – Google is not the only provider of analytics software and you don’t have to spend big money for a great alternative.  Gasp!!  I know, it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.  Webtrends Analytics is a great analytics software solution with the deep, rich insights one expects with an analytics package, wrapped up in an extremely easy and slick user-interface…at a reasonable price.

Now, we usually try to stay away from blatant “selling,” but this alarming change to Google Analytics makes it so hard not to yell, “Hey!  We have a solution!!”  So, since BitWise Solutions is a Webtrends partner, we want you to know that we are able to offer world-class analytics reporting for an extremely reasonable fee so that our clients can obtain all the data they need to maximize their online marketing campaigns.  When incorporated with our top-notch web analytics consulting to help make sense of the data, we are able to provide something that Google Analytics alone can never compete with: insight and action that lead to real ROI.  We want to help businesses be successful and that is exactly why we’re speaking so boldly about this change to Google Analytics.  If you’re using Google Analytics and you’re serious about your online marketing efforts, please don’t wait to give us a call to get your web analytics back on track.

After some additional research, we have found that the change is not just within Google Analytics but rather it is a change within Google Search, meaning that it affects all analytics software providers the same.  We did some digging and discoverd that Webtrends now shows a "Not Provided" category as well.  We are terribly sorry for relaying this misguided information.

This means the change is even more devastating becuase now there is no way (can't just switch analytics provider) to find the information necessary to determine keyword performance on your website.  You can obtain some, very limited information through Webmaster Tools but the data is highly inaccurate and only gives you data about keyword performance before the visitor comes to your site - that's where the information stops.  No longer are you able to determine if specific keywords you are competing for are actually converting on your website and turning into new business.

To be clear, this change is only affecting non-paid Google traffic.  The Adword side is still reporting the same information as it used to, so that's a small glimmer of good news amidst this troubling change from the Grinch (Google) who stole the ability for marketers to effectively track and measure their SEO performance.

Posted: December 2, 2011 by Bjorn Carlson | with 0 comments


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