About two years ago, Google began to place limits on the referrer data available via Google analytics. While instances of getting “Not Provided” in answer to research in Google Analytics search data had been increasing we’ve now reached the point of no return. Google Analytics, as of today, is no longer going to be providing us with this valuable information about our keywords. In other words, the door is shut (for today at least) and we can no longer rely upon Google Analytics to provide valuable keyword data. According to Google, this is a result of its efforts to protect web users’ privacy by not providing data on potentially sensitive searches.
Though consumer privacy protection is an increasingly important issue, as marketers, it is critical to have access to as much data as possible. There are some ways to collect additional referrer data even with the increased privacy controls:
Google Webmaster Central: Users can log-in and view terms driving traffic to their sites for free. One current limitation is that only 90 days of data are available, which makes it difficult to compare performance of key words over time. However, Google has said that it plans to provide a year’s worth of data in the Webmaster Central Top Search Queries report in the future. Additionally, the top 2,000 queries driving site traffic for each day are included, which is generally far more than needed.
Google-created Python Script: This is an option for downloading historical data not presently available via Google Webmaster Central. It is a bit more complicated to use, but definitely doable with the right know-how.
AdWords Account: If you have an AdWords account, it can be linked to your Google Webmaster Central Account, giving you full access to both current and historic search data without using the Python script. This is entirely feasible, since you only need to have an account; you do not need to actually make AdWords purchases. This may be a marketing strategy by Google to encourage AdWords business, but the end result is that you are getting full search data access without being required to spend any money for it, and from a Google marketing standpoint, it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable or particularly heavy-handed strategy to promote its AdWords programs.
For more information on Google search data collection and analysis, or to find out how Zephoria can help you maximize an ongoing analytics program please contact us.