Are you lost for key-words?

Google Analytics is the most used website statistic tool and offers detailed information on websites traffic. It can track where visitors come from and until recently gave webmasters and SEO professionals very valuable information, allowing them to analyse the websites traffic raw data.

Lost for keywordsCredit: Larah

For many years webmasters have been 'spoiled' with  consulting this free tool and relied on it to analyse the list of all the traffic generating keywords within the organic search terms report; unfortunately now the majority of those keywords are masked in the (not provided) category.

In 2011 Google started to modify the way keywords data results were displayed in Google Analytics and now, you are no longer able to see what keywords have brought business to your site and in what number, all because of their encrypted organic searches.

Many webmasters believe that Google is stealing their information and there is nothing they can do about it. Or is there?

The (not provided) Conspiracy Theory of ...

Google AnalyticsCredit: Google

I am not going to go into the details about the reasons why those changes were made,  which according to some online marketing professionals, were covered up by some security and privacy legislation changes excuses; what it really matters, is the impact those changes have on online businesses that used to rely on this tool.

Google is withholding this data, which by consequence may reduce effective Search Engine Optimization strategies and potentially lead to loss of income, for some of these online businesses.

When Google implemented these changes, people were told, that only about 10 percent of the keywords, were going to be affected by this ‘secure search’ modification, two years later we know that in some cases that has reached 80 percent and it is still growing.

Currently an exception to this is for paid search data with PPC (Google AdWords), which continues on reporting as before. Talk about double standards, some people would say.

Watch Amit Singhal (head of Google's core ranking team) interview at the Search Marketing Expo

Is this really bad for your online business?

Some SEO experts say that this change, unlike the algorithm changes of Google Panda and Penguin, doesn't affect how you optimize your site, but only the way you can measure and report your keyword performance.

For those whose income depends on the success of their online business, it is crucial to identify reliable metrics on how their business is generated.

SEO Analysts are wrecking their brains to find alternatives, they suggest a few fiddling work around, but of course their analysis is not going to give the same complete picture people were used to.  Some of those 'tricks' include linking Google Webmaster Tool to Google Analytics to view the keywords that are sending traffic to the site or set up filters for the (not provided) traffic to show the landing page for each of those 'not provided' referrals.

They also encourage to save some of the historical data, while it's still available.

It seems that the days of Google Analytics, as you knew it, are gone for good. SEO is constantly changing and evolving, the best tool you can rely on at the end is building a great site, with superb content, that is worth visiting, not only finding.

Google Analytics Keywords Not Provided

KISSmetrics analyst puts it all simple in this video