Can Google's Paid and Organic Report Unlock 'Not Provided'?

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Not provided keywords in Google Analytics are on the rise. However, there are other ways to track which search queries are bringing traffic – such as Analytics’ search query data, and the new paid and organic report - as SEO co-ordinator, Tom Williamsexplains.

If you’re up to speed on SEO, you’ll know that Google recently pressed the big red button – it announced it was to encrypt all users’ searches using SSL.

As a consequence, we’re seeing more and more keyword data in Analytics comes up as that familiar foe, ‘not provided’.

For users, this means improved privacy (good thing). For marketers, it means we can’t tell which keywords are driving organic traffic to a particular page (frustrating thing).

But. Don’t. Panic. Analytics isn’t everything. There are other sources from which you can extract organic keyword data.

Granted, the alternatives don’t give you the clear, relatable results that Analytics used to. But with careful analysis, they can provide a pretty clear picture of how your organic campaigns are working.

Analytics, for example, provides search query data.

Using this feature, you can see organic impressions by keyword, plus clicks, click-through rate, and average position.

A separate data set gives you the same metrics for landing pages, so you can easily see which pages are performing well organically.

The problem lies in tying these data sets together. If you’re getting a lot of search queries through for, let’s say, ‘hand-decorated cakes’, and your landing page at /hand-decorated-cakes/ is performing well too, then it’s fair to assume your organic marketing efforts are working.

However, this isn’t watertight. You can’t tell for sure that your landing page is the one ranking for the keyword.

But you can see the average position where you’re ranking for a keyword – can’t you just do a search for that keyword and see where you’re ranking in the SERP?

Unfortunately not. The average position is far from foolproof, as it collates results from local searches, which vary considerably – especially when it comes to product and service-related searches.

Also, this data is notoriously unreliable, as it rounds numbers up to the nearest ten, 100, or even 1,000.

This means it’s only good for getting a general overview of search performance – you can’t rely on this data for in-depth analysis.

The New Paid and Organic Report – Getting Round the Data Problem

Thankfully, there’s a way to get round this data-rounding. (Well, there is if you run paid search and organic campaigns.)

On Sunday, August 25, Google announced released its new ‘paid and organic report’ feature.

This gives you the same metrics for keywords as Webmaster Tools – with added paid search data for good measure.

This is great for measuring the success of paid versus organic search on a deep, keyword-specific level – and a great resource from which to start A/B testing on keyword phrases.

(Say, for example, you’re getting good click-through on a certain keyword in organic search, but only moderate click-through in paid results. You could temporarily pause the keyword in AdWords and see how much effect it has on your traffic and spend.)

But for those managing organic campaigns, one of its biggest boons is that, unlike in Webmaster Tools, the data is not rounded up to the nearest nth.

Unfortunately, though, there’s still no way of knowing how the data ties to landing pages with any certainty.

However, with considered, regular use of the paid and organic report, it’s possible to track the success of an organic campaign from a keyword perspective – by looking for uplifts in impressions and average rankings, for example.

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