Changes to how Google Analytics Tracks Organic Search Traffic

by on October 21, 2011

Google has made a change to how they will be reporting organic search traffic in Google Analytics.

If you’re logged into a Google account and then goto Google.com, Google will use an SSL layer which hides the search terms.

Google Analytics will still show you that you got a search from Google, but will use the term “(not provided)”.

Google Analytics Keyword Not Provided

The impact will be felt by all analytics tool who rely on the keyword information being shown in the referrer string.

Interestingly, keywords used by people coming in from paid search will still be reported in full.

The actual impact is still relatively unknown, but tests on several of our clients sites, indicates that the impact is around 1-10% of the traffic. Sites who have American visitors will see a greater impact.

Google’s blog post is here: Making search more secure – Accessing search query data in Google Analytics

The changes to search will impact on how

Track Brand and Non Brand Search
If you’re tracking both brand and non brand traffic as part of your SEO reporting, you’ll now need to account for the impact on this as you won’t know what word the person used.

Harvesting Long Tail Keyword Information
If you’ve been harvesting long tail keywords to identify niches for SEO campaigns or for use in PPC campaigns, you’ll have less of a pool to work from.


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