unlock keywords

In the ever-changing world of SEO, and its continual courtship with search engine changes, we have once again witnessed a major turn in keyword data analysis along with the secure searches that Google introduced. Starting from September, Google has disallowed the value of a keyword to be passed on to analytics tools, such as Google Analytics or other software used by the SEO community. So, there is a bit of a quandary regarding the ways in which we can retrieve this valuable data back from the virtual coffers of Google.

How do we adapt keyword-related SEO techniques to accommodate this new lack of data? Let us look at five methods that we can use to get keyword data from other sources:

  1. Segment the "not provided" keywords by landing pages in Google Analytics

The term "not provided" is quite useless unless we can derive some meaning in its occurrence. A great way to accomplish this is to literally filter this "blank" traffic, so that it will display the landing page for each such referral. Although this will obviously not provide as discrete of a keyword picture as it did before introducing secure searches, it will still allow us to gain a reasonable idea of what the visitors' intend may have been. Obviously, the more "not provided" referrals are linked to a certain landing page, the clearer an understanding can be gained.

  1. Use Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools may seem a bit less robust than Google Analytics. Nonetheless, it can still offer up some valuable information; specifically the keyword preferences that can be found under the "Search Queries" section. The main benefit is that this analysis will display the clickthrough rates of Google Search keywords. Of particular interest in regards to secure searches is that GWT will also display how many search impressions a keyword is receiving. It stands clear that those keywords that are receiving a large number of impressions should be focused on to increase a site's ranking.

  1. Examine AdWords information

Following the encryption of search queries, paying for AdWords has turned into a means to allow full access to the keywords driving traffic. Not only is this excellent for determining the value of the targeted keywords, but there is another benefit here. By analysing which landing pages are being accessed by a searcher, we can get a general idea of the keywords that they are using.

  1. Analyse relevant keyword data from other search engines

Other search engines such as Yahoo! and Bing still provide keyword data, so all of the previously proven SEO techniques that were employed before secure search regarding keyword tracking can be used on these traffic sources. Unfortunately, the downside is that unless the website has a great deal of online exposure, it is unlikely that either one of these alternative engines will provide enough keyword information to make it viable. Still, this is a good option for pages that experience a massive amount of traffic.

  1. Combine everything into one comprehensive analysis

Although it is not as easy as it used to be, we can still put together a robust keyword data analysis by employing all of these methods in synergy. Combining GWT data (clicks and clickthrough rates) with the rank tracking data provided by organic search engine positions can help provide a clearer picture on how searchers perceive a website, through its content or its brand. Ancillary methods such as observing keyword tendencies from other search engines traffic and employing the data from paid AdWords are able to further clarify which words are bringing visitors to a specific landing page.


For better or for worse, Google's secure search is here to stay. So, at this point in time it is important to get the most out of the organic, granular data that we can get, while slowly starting to base future SEO practices on a broader keyword data approach.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. It'd be interesting to learn what other keyword data sources you are using now for SEO analysis. I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments section below.

Photo credit: Larry Sheradon