Google’s “Keywords not provided” – Do some SEO companies have a secret workaround?

That’s what one of our colleagues asked me recently. Some SEO agency rep told her that they have a way to capture Google organic keywords with 99% accuracy. If that’s true, I’m sure all online marketers would love to know how they do it.

Since September 2013, Google has encrypted every organic search. In essence, Google scrubs all such data because the referrals from Google go through a Google server before coming to a site, and that handoff strips out all of the data we all used to be able to collect. A lot of that data (for organic purposes) can be pulled from Webmaster tools, but nowhere near 99% in our experience.

Webmaster tools data is pretty good but not the same. Google is letting it be known they are seriously considering a way to share that data again. But, until then, in all our research and networking within SEM organizations, events, forums, etc., we’ve seen no viable workarounds for getting all the organic data until Google stops or changes the scrubbing (encryption).

Of course, we have always cautioned people about spending too much time worrying about what keywords someone used to find your site because, as you know, people can only find your site for the terms it has been optimized for. What you really want to know is the number of searches at Google each month for all the keywords that could be used to find your most important products or services. What traffic might you be missing because you haven’t recognized some critical keywords or optimized one of your webpages for them? That’s one reason I love Paid Search so much; it’s a pretty clear indicator of what really makes the money for the client.

Here’s an article about this topic that may be of interest.

About Susan O’Neil, CEO – @Website Publicity
Founder & CEO, and co-author of Maximize Website Traffic, Susan speaks and writes frequently about Search, Social & Mobile Marketing.
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