For Google's eyes only

For Google's eyes only

The percentage of keyword traffic classed as ‘not provided’ in Google Analytics is ever increasing, therefore denying webmasters crucial information on how their site is performing organically. Neil Fairweather of Latitude Group weighs their options.

Published 21st June 2014

The gaming industry remains at the mercy of Google, and anything they do has significant repercussions on the gaming sector. Taking data away from one of the largest sources of traffic for the industry has significant impact and this is an opportunity to assess feasible alternatives and options available. In order to understand the scale and impact of what Google has done, we need to first look at the background.

The background
‘Not Provided’ is the element you see within any Google Analytics account where the keyword level data has come from secure Google search pages, and has therefore not carried through with it the real keyword data. This denies webmasters fundamental information on how their site is performing organically, and has even started to influence some elements of PPC (for some people), but is not as much of a concern.

The percentage of this traffic in Google Analytics is ever increasing, and will one day hit 100%, so cannot be ignored.

The impact
In order to provide you with a live update from one of our peers in the sector it is worth monitoring the following website:

Alternatively, a screen-grab taken at the time of writing (27 May 2014) shows the true impact of the change (Figure 1).

Not provided.PNG

The response
Due to the changes impacting “everyone” who targets acquisition within the digital/ online, it is in webmasters’ interest to be able to quantify the impact and discuss the available options in terms of enabling any accuracy in performance measurement. This should include a complete review of “not provided” data, an analysis of the recent rollout to elements of PPC and ideas on how to measure organic traffic performance via alternative tools, metrics and data sources. 

The gaming industry has always been at the forefront of maximising traffic and data from organic search, and with visibility being lost it is crucially important for the sector to now assess where they can look.

The solutions
When looking to find a robust solution to the above, the short answer is: “There is not a silver bullet.”

But, it is important that we as marketers are looking at various tools and techniques to use in order to make sense of the data - including the following:

  • GWT CTR data
  • Keyword ranking reports
  • Adwords data
  • Google Analytics data
  • Google trend data
  • Searchmetrics
  • Landing page referral data
  • And many more

In our view, the most effective solution should aim at re-addressing the focus away from ‘chasing the dream’, to ‘managing and working with the reality’.

All of the other options are means by which to extrapolate data trends and therefore are likely to result in inaccuracies. Based on some initial testing and manipulation we would suggest these inaccuracies can add up to 20-40% difference, and therein lies the extremities of such an update to the gaming sector. “For Google’s Eyes Only” is therefore merely just the starting point.