Google Analytics is now hiding keyword data. Source: Danny Sullivan.
Regarding the “not provided” keyword trend, sometimes a picture says it all. Eventually nearly 100% of all keywords will not be disclosed in Google Analytics. This is by design.
Many in the SEO community believe this has nothing to do with Google’s response to the NSA’s tracking. Google has been moving in this direction for well over a year. If you’re Google, its a great way to encourage organic marketers to shift to the paid advertising platform.
That said, this trend reinforces the message we communicate to all of periscopeUP’s prospects and customers: tracking goals, conversions, and events is a better measure of your online marketing efforts than SERP’s, visits, or keywords. This has always been our belief and will continue to be.
How will we react?
One method we have been considering is to take a portion of our customer’s monthly budget and apply it to AdWords to test specific keywords. We are certainly going to further incorporate Google Webmaster data with Google Analytics in our monthly reports to extrapolate keyword performance data and are already brainstorming ideas on how to model Google Webmaster keyword data. Yahoo! and Bing search data may become more valuable as well, if they don’t follow suit.
For periscopeUP and our customers, this is an opportunity. Google’s Penguin and Panda algorithm updates forced many businesses to reconsider SEO as a core marketing strategy, but those who adapted to the change found more opportunity available.
The “not set” keyword issue may have a similar impact, but those who commit to a stronger analytic approach will find greater opportunities in the months to come. We’re sure of it, since it is our practice to continue to evolve as Google does.