Search terms are dropping in Google Analytics

Website owners and search engine optimisation experts regularly use Google Analytics to see how their website stands on the web, but some recent changes are reducing the amount of useful data available.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics has been a popular tool for monitoring your websites performance.

Below is a short list showing some of the data that Google Analytics collects:

  • Number of visitors
  • Number of unique visitors
  • New visitor vs. Returning visitors
  • Search terms visitors enter to find your website
  • Visitor flow through your website
  • Sources that refer visitors to your website
  • Browsers and demographics of your visitors
  • Your contents keywords
  • Website speed
  • Social interactions

One of the most important pieces of data that Google Analytics collects, are the search terms that your visitors enter into Google Search when coming to your website.

This information allows you customise the content on your website to make sure you rank highly for specific keywords and terms.

What has changed?

Recently, many of the tools that we use everyday including Google, Firefox and AVG internet security have updated their privacy settings for their logged in users.

This change means they will now automatically encrypt any search terms you enter into Google search, which means that no data about those terms will be passed into your analytics tool.

Instead, you will see “(not provided)” or “(not set)”.

This is having a severe effect on lots of companies’ search engine optimisation efforts, as around 45% of their data is missing. This percentage is also on the rise as more browsers and internet security firms implement more privacy features.

How does this affect you?

If you monitor the number of times you get a visit from a specific keyword, you may find that the number is decreasing.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to identify whether this is because of the new privacy settings, Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, or because your website is performing badly for that term.

Google Analytics isn’t the only tool that is affected by this change; therefore we recommend that you continue to use Google Analytics as it still provides you with the most data in other areas.

You should continue to optimise your web pages for a specific keyword and track the number of visits those pages receive, this will give you an indication on which search terms visitors are using to find your website.

Consider creating landing pages focussed on one keyword or phrase. If you get lots of visits to that page, you will know that the keyword is working well.

Otherwise, continue using Google Analytics like you did before, but be aware that some of the data is missing.

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