The Secure Search Dilemma: Alternative Solutions to Analyze Website and Keyword Performance

Secure search gives some marketers trouble with finding key words and assessing performance.

The corporate website has become arguably the single most important promotional tool for many businesses. Analysis of its performance, then, is crucial for a company’s success.

In Search Not Provided: What Remains, Keyword Data Options, the Future, Avinash Kaushik offers a textbook’s worth of analysis on website analytics. Kaushik specifically addresses how secure search impacts analytics and keyword results.

Secure search causes Google Analytics to mark pages “not provided,” prohibiting websites from seeing search users’ inputs and information.

When marketers try to view audience demographics or determine popular keyword searches, they only see “not provided” for a portion of the organic search data.

Yahoo! has also recently followed suit by switching to https (“s” standing for “secure”) for all its mail users, indicating secure search may follow soon.

Kaushik’s take on secure search: he’s happy as a citizen that Google and Yahoo want to protect user privacy, but frustrated as an analyst. The effects of secure search include:

  • No keyword data for analytics, SEO and competitive intelligence tools
  • No keyword-level conversion analysis
  • Keyword data is only temporarily helpful

However, there are alternatives to combat the challenge of secure searches. Marketers can still get a macro understanding of performance and identify potentially valuable keywords through key analytics functions to determine the role search plays in driving conversions and the value of each page view from an organic search.

Kaushik also shares three Google tools as alternatives to analyze performance based on keyword data.

Google Webmaster Tools reveals the search queries your website shows up for, as well as the site’s click-through rate.

Key message: Webmaster Tools should be a key part of your search engine performance analysis.

Google Keyword Planner identifies the best keywords your SEO program should focus on.

Keyword Planner allows users to search for the most relevant keywords for your website. Marketers can search for keyword recommendations and new keyword and ad group ideas.

Google Trends determines the fastest-rising keywords to focus on for your SEO program.

While Webmaster Tools focuses on clicks and Keyword Planner defines keywords to target, Google Trends helps expand your list of top searches and identifies keywords you should begin to incorporate in your program.

Kaushik says he’s optimistic that search sites will create solutions in the future to address the void of keyword-level performance analysis. In the meantime, several methods and tools exist for marketers to gain an in-depth understanding of their website’s performance.


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