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Anybody else annoyed that that website keyword data in Google Analytics is getting diluted? Back in October 2011, Google modified the keyword data they present in Analytics. In geek terms, they call it “encrypting searches and outbound links by default.” Basically this means that if a searcher is logged into their Google Account, the keywords they used in search to find your website is masked. If you haven’t delved into your website keyword data yet, I’ll explain where to find it. I’ll also provide you my humble opinion about why Google started masking it.
Find Website Keyword Data from Organic Search
Once you’re logged in Google Analytics, go to Traffic Sources => Sources => Search => Organic. Welcome to the keywords that are getting your website traffic. If there’s no information, then you’ve got an issue with the Google Analytics code on your website. This needs fixing asap.
This report provides some important visitor behavior data points. It shows:
- Number of Visits – total times this keyword brought visitors to your site
- How many pages were viewed per visit – higher numbers show interest in your site’s content
- Average visit duration – the longer a visitor hangs out on a page indicates they are “consuming” your content
- % of New visitors – this ratio is pretty self explanatory. Even so, you want a healthy number of new visitors to your site each month to grow your numbers/engagement.
- Bounce rate – a pivotal piece of data; it gives you insight on how well the webpage matches keyword, meta description effectiveness, and overall content quality.
In this report you can also toggle between website keyword data, source (which search engine your visitor used), landing page (url for the page your visitor landed on), and other (more advanced GA feature).
The Truth Behind Google’s Privacy Spiel
According to the official statement Google made back on October 18, 2011… they are working on making search more secure. It’s a way to encourage “the industry to adopt strong security standards.” Hmmm. Before the change Google never released personally identifiable information to Google Analytics. In plain English, they weren’t sharing data about you. Info wasn’t available to unscrupulous businesses who use reverse directories and other practices to figure out who you are and then contact you directly.
So, why did Google make this change? In my opinion, it’s to sell more AdWords. Remember searchers are guaranteed privacy when logged into their G Account. Pay-Per-Click is the only way to target searchers with keywords. So by masking or encrypting website keyword data, businesses are “encouraged” to use AdWords to drive qualified traffic. Said another way, it’s forcing online markets to resort to PPC rather than organic SEO.
The irony is that Google doesn’t release personally identifiable information. However, they collect this data on you for their own business purposes… ever noticed those re-marketing ads in gmail, anyone? Google predicted that the percentage of masked website keyword data would hover around 30%. Our site has reached 62% over the last year and continues to grow each month.
What’s your number?
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