(not provided)—Distilled’s thoughts in review

There was a lot of hubbub yesterday about a dramatic increase in (not provided) traffic showing up in Analytics data. I’d say the most eye-opening part of this is the realization that the end of this upward trend is in sight: soon there will be effectively no keyword data readily available for organic search traffic from Google.

While Distilled hasn’t seen as dramatic an increase across our own accounts it has always been a matter of time. This was not unforeseen. Since Google announced the encryption of searches in October 2011 we’ve been considering this possibly. Lately it’s been seen as inevitable. So naturally Distilled has been thinking about and talking about this subject quite a bit. Here are five of our posts that deal either with (not provided) explicitly or the changing conception of keywords generally. Enjoy—and if you have any go-to resources you use please share them with us in the comments!

Keyword Analysis in a world of 100% ‘Not Provided’ by Rob Ousbey

Rob Ousbey is a pragmatic guy, so it should come as no surprise that he’s written a pragmatic post about dealing with this very problem. Rob highlights four strategies for effective online marketing that are all applicable without keyword data—but also practical today as well. He suggests:
  1. Taking page-centric or ranking-centric approaches to performance tracking for specific projects you’re working on;
  2. Using Google Trends for analysis of increases in brand visibility;
  3. Investing more in conversion rate optimization; and
  4. Adopting other methods (i.e. aside from keyword data) to develop content ideas for your site.

The Future of Search by Shelley Wilson / Will Critchlow

Shelly reports on a presentation by Will Critchlow at the Future of Digital Marketing Conference. (not provided) features in the presentation, which is mostly covering the way that search is changing the traditional model of simple text queries. Considered here:
  1. Things like social-as-search: what are the implications of asking your twitter followers to help you find a great hotel?
  2. Services like Google Now: will there ever be a point where queries are unnecessary and the user will just get information pushed to them directly?
Be sure to flip through Will’s slide deck at the bottom of the post.

The Future of User Behavior - Whiteboard Friday by Will Critchlow

Will gives another take on the future of search and explains in detail some of the concepts that appeared in the “Future of Search” presentation cited above. The most important point here, in my opinion, is about broad (in potential meaning) terms like “restaurant” or “breakfast”. What Will thinks is that there is so much implicit information that Google gathers about the user that they can now provide meaningful results for these terms. More importantly, it is possible even for smaller sites to rank for these terms when their site satisfies the implicit query that the user is making.

From Keywords to Contexts: the New Query Model by Tom Anthony

In this Moz post Tom talks about how the nature of keywords is changing—again highlighting the significance of the “implicit” query over the “explicit” query. The upshot as it concerns (not provided) is that under this model keywords are almost irrelevant since Google intention is to understand both the needs of the user and the content of your site. The alignment between those two elements is why your site will be returned as a result.

What Might Be Next For (not provided) by Mike Pantoliano

Since writing this Mike has moved on from Distilled to do great things at Ookla (responsible for Speedtest.net). This post, however, takes on a subject the rest of these (more or less) ignore: Google’s motivations for encrypting search data. It’s clear to many of us, and Mike seems to be of this mind, that Google has serious financial incentives to achieve tighter control of this data.

Benjamin Estes

Benjamin Estes

Benjamin is a senior consultant who joined Distilled in 2010. Having earned a BA in Mass Media, his intention is to continue studying the ways in which people interact with media and apply those lessons to his consulting. Ben-h264 // Born and...   read more

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1 Comment

  1. Good roundup Ben. It sure seems like GA Premium is coming eventually. I think Mike hit the nail on the head with his post. No doubt many saw it coming but now the game changes fundamentally in many ways.

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