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(not provided) – Google’s Big Shift to Secured Search

If, like us, you live and breathe in Google Analytics, you’ve likely noticed a big shift in the keyword data being reported from Google organic search traffic over the past few days. Many terms that used to drive significant percentages of your traffic have dropped, and search visits from the (not provided) phrase have jumped.

WHAT IS (NOT PROVIDED)?

(not provided) is obviously not an actual search phrase. Its Google’s way of telling you that the visitor came into your website after running their query through a secured Google search. Over simplified, they used “https://www.Google.com” instead of “http://www.Google.com”. The s means that the the site / page is encrypted and ensures an added measure of protection and privacy for the user.

Secure encrypted searches have been around since 2010 in Google and have gradually increased in popularity as they become the de facto preference many web browsers. In 2011, Google made the SSL encryption for its search tool default for signed in users (which is why the (not provided) term has appeared in meaningful volumes since then). Now, in September of 2013, Google is routing all non-signed in users to https:// instead of http:// (the only exception is users who are explicitly entering http://).

WHY WOULD GOOGLE MAKE THE SWITCH TO (NOT PROVIDED)?

The easy explanation (and the one that Google provides) is that it provides an added layer of protection for users. The official Google quote on the matter is:

“We added SSL encryption for our signed-in search users in 2011, as well as searches from the Chrome omnibox earlier this year. We’re now working to bring this extra protection to more users who are not signed in.”

 

Beyond that, this is another step in Google’s efforts to drive businesses to participate in their paid search program (Adwords). Its the core of Google’s business and ultimately has funded the company for years. Because organic keyword traffic (and conversion data) has been available for a long time through Analytics (at no cost), its encouraged the growth of independent organic search marketing as an industry (SEO).

Google has tried to control the SEO industry through its algorithm updates (quaintly named Penguin, Panda and lately Hummingbird) but has met with marginal results. Generally these algorithm updates have encouraged the SEO industry to become more user focused (which is fantastic, and something that Coalition has always put a great deal of energy into). BUT those updates didn’t really drive much added business to PPC (pay per click) and Adwords.

This push gives Google the opportunity to force an advertising industry it can’t capitalize on, into one of its core revenue streams. Potentially, Google has a shot at monetizing the SEO industry by making it the PPC industry (or at least forcing them to involve PPC in SEO).

WHAT’S IT MEAN TO A LOS ANGELES SEO COMPANY LIKE COALITION?

The beauty of Coalition’s approach to SEO is that the focus has always been on revenue and not on simple keyword traffic statistics. While the keyword statistics can provide valuable information, they are not required for us to provide truly outstanding results.

Because we’ve dialed in on creating quality, specialized content and landing pages for our clients over the years, we’re well equipped for this shift. We’ve also got a fantastic pay per click team who we’ve involved along the way and has played a role in educating our organic team about opportunities in search early in campaigns. These best practice approaches to SEO mean that this shift is not a big surprise and is not paralyzing for what we do.

There are a number of ways that a forward thinking Los Angeles SEO company can provide all the necessary tracking and analysis that will make your company profitable in search engine optimization efforts without the information. Yes, it does present some added challenges and may increase the amount of time needed to track and process the data. But ultimately we have the tools and personnel available to make that happen.

HOW WILL I NEED TO CHANGE MY SEO EFFORTS?

If you’re not already working with a forward thinking, and reputable Search Engine Optimization company, then now may be the time to reach out (our number is 310.827.3890). Keyword data is very valuable in determining what is working for you and what isn’t. Without it, you can make some educated guesses or assumptions, but those can be off. A great, data driven, marketing company can take those guesses and help you ground them in facts.

It might also be a good time to start rounding out your other traffic sources and building up your landing pages. By focusing your landing pages on more specific content and terms, you can start to measure your efficacy with organic search by landing page and not necessarily by an explicit statement in Analytics. Coalition has been taking this approach for several years now, and this transition won’t impact what we do.

It might also be time to start committing some resources to other marketing techniques. Our agency not only excels in SEO (we are LA’s top ranked company), but has the capability to support world class Pay Per Click, web design and development, email marketing, and social media marketing campaigns. Typically, our best case studies are the clients who have trusted us to be heading up all of these fronts for them.

If you have more questions on (not provided) search results, or would like to bring our fantastic team on as part of your company, call us at 310.827.3890 or visit our Contact Us page.

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