Google is finally due to release version 25 of their Chrome browser that incorporates SSL search to lead to further increases in ‘not provided’ keyword data.
While not quite so hot on the heels of Firefox, which switched to secure search in mid 2012, or the iOS6 Safari mobile browser, released in September 2012, the long anticipated switch to SSL has been expected since Google updated their user privacy rules in late 2011. However, Chrome 25 has not yet been fully rolled out worldwide from Beta to stable release.
With the roll out of iOS6 for iPhone, we saw the ‘as standard’ Safari mobile browser strip referral and keyword data from searches performed in the search box. These changes brought not only a higher number of ‘not provided’ visits but revealed further issues with searches being registered as direct visits as opposed to referred visits.
It is unconfirmed, but likely, that Internet Explorer will follow suit and switch to secure search to keep in line with Chrome and Firefox, which means the big three desktop browsers and the standard iPhone mobile browser will all be obscuring keyword data. The 20-30% average data loss is therefore likely to grow significantly.
While 100% of keyword data is still available for any clicks through Google’s paid channels, eventually we’re looking at 100% loss of organic keyword data. Whether that’s within the year or further down the line, it’s important that webmasters and marketers lessen their reliance on keywords and look for alternative data sources to understand how users are finding and interacting with your site.
What does this mean for brands?
It’s worth noting that a wealth of keyword data is available within Google Webmaster Tools, and linking up your Webmaster Tools account and your Google Analytics account should be a priority for any brand using these tools for their tracking and reporting.
Brands undertaking multi-channel marketing should be working to bring these channels closer together. The fact that paid advertising on Google’s Adwords network provides you with keyword data is all the more reason to start sharing data between channels, allowing brands to shape and sharpen their campaigns with an understanding of how the different channels work, both separately and collaboratively.
Brands need to stop worrying so much about keyword data and start looking to other metrics to measure success and develop their marketing strategies. Obsessing about those high volume, exact match keywords isn’t really looking at the whole picture and a broader approach to reporting, focusing primarily on content based reporting can drive greater benefit, allowing brands to understand what kind of on site content is driving users to their site.
Understanding where and how users are finding you and how they’re interacting with the site is just as important as how many visits this or that keyword has driven each month, and will drive a brands underlying strategy, allowing them to continue creating content that users value.
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Categories: Press Release