{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

With Google's recent changes removing most of the remaining organic keyword data, I thought I'd round up some of the workarounds and alternatives for measuring organic traffic. 

Of course, nothing can really substitute for the real data and, as pointed out here, it may force SEOs to analyse a greater breadth of data, and to look at things like organic performance per page, not just per keyword. 

Until then, here are some tips and alternatives to organic keyword data...

Try and steal some of the data back from Google

This 'hack' from Dan Barker was written when Google first began to encrypt organic referral data.

The post explains the process in full, but this is what it does in a nutshell: 

  1. Looks for '(not provided)' search terms.
  2. Where it finds them, it looks to see which page the visitor landed on.
  3. It then changes your keywords report in Google Analytics to show those two pieces of information (the fact that Google suppressed the keyword, and the landing page), rather than just the utterly anonymous '(not provided)'.

Use your site search data

Data from site search contains a wealth of insight, and can be even more valuable now that organic keyword data is such a rare commodity.

It's so valuable as it's likely that the patterns of use and the terms used by customers in your site search will be similar to those used in Google. 

This insight can then be used to build a list of target keywords for optimisation. 

Use historical analytics data

This is by no means perfect but old data still has value, especially when looking at seasonal trends. 

Use AdWords data

Cynics (and there are plenty of those) would say that this is just what Google wanted you to do when removing the referral data, but it does remain a key source of information now that organic data has all but vanished. 

Use data from Bing/Yahoo

This is a possible solution, and will provide some insight, but Google's sheer dominance of the search market means that there just isn't much of it. 

According to Neil Yeomans, Head of SEO at Lakestar McCann:

While Bing and Yahoo! might give some insights to the performance of non-brand keywords the volumes are tiny in comparison to Google, so is the depth of the long-tail, which is far greater than other search engines.

The (not provided) kit

Also from Dan Barker, this is a set of add ons for Google Analytics users which will help you make sense of the remaining data. 

It includes things like a custom report that analyses the information around the landing pages that (not provided) users land on. 

Use Google's paid and organic report

The paid and organic report, announced recently by Google, which is "the first to let you see and compare your performance for a query when you have either an ad, an organic listing, or both appearing on the search results page".

And finally...

Hit users with a pop-up

This solution, from @RavenJon is genius. If Google won't give you the data, just demand it from visitors with an intrusive pop-up. What could possibly go wrong? 

Graham Charlton

Published 7 October, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (19)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Emma North

Emma North, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

One other way is through the Search Queries Report in Webmaster Tools. This report is far more useful than it used to be and gives you some good insight into keywords, average position and the number of times you appeared for that term. If you haven't been into this report in quite some time it's definitely worth checking out again.

over 2 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Thanks Emma - I'll do that.

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Pritesh Patel

Or you could start asking your clients to tell their customers to use Bing?

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Nick Stamoulis

I don't know how I feel about having the pop-up for your visitors. You might get some data but how many other visitors will it annoy? I suppose it's worth testing at least and mining whatever information you can out of it.

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Lisa

I'd be interested to see the results from that pop-up.

My instinctive (non-expletive-filled) response would be something along the lines of "wouldn't you like to know" or "fish" or something similar.

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Jon Henshaw

The author knows this, but just for the record – in case you didn't pick up on it – my pop-up idea is a joke :)

over 2 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Jon. Yes, perhaps I should have made that clearer ;)

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Chris Reynolds, Online Marketing Engagement Manager at Adecco management & consulting

There's a bunch of information you can still pickup from the Google referral string; rank of the clicked link, type of link, Google local variation etc.

More details;
http://qforquery.com/parsing-the-google-referral-string-in-a-post-not-provided-world-270/
http://moz.com/blog/decoding-googles-referral-string-or-how-i-survived-secure-search

over 2 years ago

Martin Newman

Martin Newman, CEO at Practicology

Brilliant, love the popup!!!

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Chee Lo, SEO Specialist at Trustpilot

Or just buy a monthly subscription to Vanessa Fox's Blueprint Analytics tool?

http://www.ninebyblue.com/

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Jonathan Rose, Product Evangelist at Idio

With organic keyword search data no longer readily available (depending on your inclination to use the above tips), it's time to turn to the more powerful interest data you can infer from onsite behaviour.

The next step in understanding and targeting will not be predicated upon keyword searches, but understanding the topics and concepts within the content being searched for.

It's what Google are doing (see here: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/sep/30/google-news-personalised-serendipitous), and it's what brands should be seeking to do as well (see here: http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2013/aug/21/content-marketing-analytics)

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

David Sewell

Or try the http://www.notprovidedtool.com
This uses neural networks to learn visitor patterns and behaviour to suggest keywords used to drive the visit.

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Adrian Mills

Just checked the Search Queries Report in Webmaster Tools. Didn't recognise it. Very useful tool - many thanks Emma North for that.

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Dave

The pop up is a good idea, but I doubt you would get any decent data back. Would love to hear about anyone who has acyually tried it.

over 2 years ago

Tim Aldiss

Tim Aldiss, Consultant/Director at ThinkSearch

Yeah that pop up is classic! Maybe redirecting all Google referrals back to the homepage of Bing would do it too. Nuts

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Jonathan Rose, Product Evangelist at Idio

Further to my comment earlier this morning, I wrote a follow-up post.

Should be of interest to anyone that wants to know how online behaviour tracking could help circumnavigate the Google "Not Provided" problem: http://www2.idioplatform.com/l/20742/2013-10-08/5bjgc

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

David Burdon, Director at Simply Clicks

I've found that some engines powered by Google, e.g. AOL, are still showing the keyword search term. This gives pretty good aggregate data for sites with large visitor volumes.

The problem is when you want to look at the detail of reports such as the Multi Channel Funnel. You end up doing a lot of guessing for the organic data but get the exact match data for Adwords derived terms.

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Robert Geerdink

While I am a bit of a cynic (I.e. Google looking to increase search ad revenue). As Google move towards natural language (intelligent) search, users wouldn't want any random websites to see what they were searching for (in the instances that Google gets it really wrong...) Certain sites could easily tie a really personal search query to a registered user..

While from a marketing perspective we are all impacted, from a user privacy perspective it is for the best...

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Nic Cohen

I personally would be extremely cautious and in actual fact wouldn't bother running the risk of messing around with your Google Analytic's account as discussed from the outset of this post, especially when you are probably not going to extract the extra information you are after, while potentially damaging your stats.

Historical data is useful, but do note as search engines advance, so to do our inquiry search terms, hence Google's new algorithm Hummingbird looking for the answers across the internet for longer based question or semantics, therefore making our search enquirers different over time...

AdWords data can be extremely helpful as long as you have an AdWords account, Google recently removed their FREE keyword tool and replaced it with there keyword planner, which is only available to AdWords customers, and make sure that if you do utilise this tool, the competition rate will be different for PPC and SEO...

Bing and Yahoo are also handy but only up to a certain degree, if we don't know how to work a computer then we are more inclined to use Yahoo and or Bing. Why?? Because that is what was set on your browser when you purchased your PC.... 93% of searches are made on Google in the UK and about 96% in the US, so unless you are a little village shop supplying tea cozies to the likes of Dot in Dagenham you may not find adequate and worthy enough results to then utilise for your campaign...

Paid and organic reports are very much the same results found in the new keyword planner.

And finally, be cautious when using any Pop-ups on your website especially on the home page, as a proportion of these can have an adverse effect on your SEO as Google can see these as advertorials...

Good Luck!

over 2 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.