Life In A (Not Provided) World – What’s Going On?

Life In A (Not Provided) World – What’s Going On?

By Max Thomas

Are you ready? Have you noticed? Either way, it’s happening faster than we anticipated even 3 months ago, and promises to be the norm as we move into the brave new world of Google data privacy initiatives and the rise of Google+.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Then check out the organic search keywords in your Google Analytics account and chances are you’ll find that the most visited keyword isn’t a keyword at all but “(not provided)”. This (not provided) is the sum of traffic from all keywords used by searchers logged in to their Google account (such as or Google+ page. In other words, it’s data no longer available to you, the site/business owner.

What’s more, (not provided) is growing in leaps and bounds. When Google rolled it out back in September 2011, the Big G tried to calm concerns by explaining that a site shouldn’t expect to see more than 10% of its organic keyword data hidden by (not provided). Well, 4-5 months later, that figure is exceeding 20-25% for most sites. Why you ask? Some say it’s because most users don’t realize that they’re logged into their Google accounts at all, and so they also don’t realize that the search results they see are skewed via personalized search and their search history. The other BIG factor at play is the undoubted growing popularity of Google+. Even from this high-level perspective, it’s easy to predict that the available organic search data in Analytics will continue to diminish.

But please don’t despair. And don’t get too angry either. Short of betting on a rival search engine to upset Google, hope is not all lost. Rather than jump on a soap box of dismay, come join the dudes on the Life In A [Not Provided] World panel at SMX West 2012 to learn work-arounds, mine new data in the rapidly improving Google Webmaster Tools, leverage Adwords as a way to model organic traffic conversion models, see the Big Picture trends with some impressive macro-data analysis, as well as learn new ideas that I’m psyched to hear about myself.

The panel features an impressive array of thought-leaders and seasoned SEOers, including Micah Fisher-Kirshner of Become, Inc., Nathan Safran of Conductor, Marty Weintraub of aimClear, AJ Kohn of Blink Five Year Old (moderator) and myself. My particular focus is on practical and alternative approaches for finding key performance indicators in Google Analytics such as branded-vs-nonbranded search traffic, value of an organic visitor and, of course, tracking organic search conversion patterns. I’m planning also to dig into some real-world data to see if it’s possible to determine if being logged in to a Google account has any noticeable impact on conversions and visitor value.

To finish this up, Life In A [Not Provided] World is about finding answers and tactics for dealing with this major change to Google Analytics. I’m looking forward to learning from my fellow panelists as well as from what’s sure to be a lively Q&A.

See you in San Jose!

P.S. Also, be sure to hear Gary Magnone who’s a speaker on The “New” Killer Content panel and Monique Pouget who’s a speaker on Justifying The Investment: Analytics For Social Media panel as well as a hand’s on expert at the Analytics Clinic.

Max Thomas

Max Thomas is ThunderActive’s founder. He loves new ideas, laughing, shoes, personal style, and art.

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