Team Evolve’s Thoughts on “Keyword (Not Provided)”

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Google will eventually start encrypting all referral search terms from analytics. In other words, we (and everyone else) won’t be able to tell which keywords visitors searched in order to find a particular page. SEOs across the world released their rage through fiery blog posts and tweets. Team Evolve, on the other hand, wasn’t so bent up about it.

The truth is, Google has been gradually hiding referral terms for nearly two years now. And while it’s important to know what specific terms are drawing traffic, not knowing is not the end of the world. Paid Search will still provide insight regarding which terms yielded clicks – so maybe this is Google’s way of acquiring more business. Here’s what the team had to say:

Jay: This will push most “free” organic users into paid search accounts to obtain the terms and keywords that are driving traffic to your site.
Locke: There is a two-fold reasoning for implementation. One, to prevent the NSA from using search data to spy and validate Google’s statement that they are not and do not aid the NSA in spying. Two, which we all know, money. Google effectively is saying you have to use AdWords to get this data.
Tabitha: In short, it is not the end of the world. I think that is a good position for us to show our value: we can show that maybe it isn’t easy, but we are here to guide you through this and we can assist in setting up ways to create and show online ROI.
Kai: Any good marketer worth his salt will have seen this and prepared for it. Primitive models of understanding the queries will no longer be viable. To have any meaningful outcome, the full picture must be seen and understood.
John: This is good for those who are focusing on things like consumer path and building out content to support that. Google’s algorithm has become more sophisticated every year to start incorporating these types of ideas (e.g., intent-based SERPs, device tailored SERPs, geo tailored SERPs).
Kristy: I think we should communicate to clients that this isn’t the big catastrophe that some sites make it appear to be. It’s part of a shift in the industry to focus more on providing valuable content to users and less on individual keyword rankings, which were never the end-all metric for success anyway.
Emily: We’ve actually been seeing this metric slip from our fingers for nearly two years, so SEOs already sought out other ways to deal with it. If you knowingly target keywords with each new piece of content you make, it will be fairly obvious what terms are drawing consumers in.
Laura: It’s possible Google will eventually reveal this data to those who subscribe to GA Premium. It makes sense get everyone hooked on the koolaid, then take away the sugar and make them pay for it.

Overall, the team is optimistic. We get that there’s way more to digital marketing than knowing which keywords are sending folks to your site. (For instance, generating content that contains value and provides solutions.)

Helpful links

Haven’t had time to read about this news? No sweat. Here’s a list of the team’s favorite articles about Google’s decision to encrypt all keywords.