Those closely involved with web analytics and SEO have almost all reacted angrily to the announcement by Google that it will no longer be passing information about some search terms typed by searchers into Google.

I wanted to flag this up, first for the practical reason that you will see this in your analytics system – whether it’s Google’s own Analytics or other systems like Site Catalyst or WebTrends.

“Not provided” refers to when the individual search keywords can’t be viewed in analytics although they are still registered as natural search visits. Google only masks these keywords when users are using a secure Google site such as Gmail or Google+ as logged-in users, but that’s increasing.

Note the impact is much greater for Google US at the moment and there is no announcement from Google when it will be rolled out further, but it is already having some impact in the UK.

This is what you’ll see in Google Analytics, this example is taken Econsultancy’s summary of the impact they’re seeing in the US:

Econsultancy not provided

The other reason to mention this is that you may have to rethink with your agency how you review SEO performance. Some compilations from the US have shown that well over 10% of searches are effected and this could increase as use of Gmail and Google+ increases. It clearly makes techniques like search gap analysis less meaningful although relative differences in phrases still give insight. Maybe if this change makes the new Google SEO:Query tool less useful, then marketers will revert more to good old rank checkers which Google has been trying to stop adoption of years.

So, no immediate panic, but one to watch out for in the future.

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About the author:

An acknowledged expert on digital marketing, Dave was recognised in 2004 by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of “50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have shaped the future of Marketing“. Dave is also author of five best-selling books including Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice; and eMarketing eXcellence.