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Not Provided: What Do We Do Now?

I remember the day vividly. September 23, 2013, our friends over at Search Engine Watch posted a blog post that made me gulp. That post headline read Goodbye, Keyword Data: Google Moves Entirely to Secure Search. You could feel the air get sucked out of the office and quickly. We all knew that Google was slowing increasing (not provided) data over the years, but we didn’t expect to happen so soon, and so suddenly.

At the time of writing, we are resting slightly easier at 82.16%, but for me and my colleagues, (not provided) has become a fact of life and something we truthfully don’t worry about as much. Let me give you some tips that can help you get back on your data confidence. You’re going to be fine, I promise.

Start Benchmarking Your Traffic

While Google Analytics has taken our blatant keyword traffic away for the most part, they are still giving us a wealth of information in multiple reports that are readily available with a few clicks. For instance, start focusing on these: overall organic traffic, landing page organic traffic, homepage organic traffic, and your Queries/Landing Pages/Geographical Summary under Search Engine Optimization.

Acquisition report

By now, your AdWords and Google Webmasters Tools should be linked to your Analytics. But in case you don’t know if they are or how to link them, there are some great tutorials here and here. Your Webmaster Tools and AdWords give you so much information about impressions and keyword traffic that it’s almost ridiculous.

While it is more broad in WMT, it is definitely more pinpointed in AdWords because it’s traffic you paid for. Use the tools Google has provided you and pay attention to them. They are going to be a couple of your best friends.

Pay Attention To Your Rankings

Be sure to run your ranking reports and also be sure to utilize tools like SEMRush to keep track of historical and present rankings (among many, many other useful tools). The beauty about keeping track of these ranking reports is that they will help you keep track of areas you are succeeding in and areas where you could use some more work.

SEMRush dashboard

While keyword rankings still matter in this context for tracking your performance, they should not, again SHOULD NOT, be the sole focus of your content and its optimization. Remember – Google did away with keywords because SEOs started gaming the system. Google wants you to focus on your content and provide quality and relevance, not spam. Do away with the mentality of content for keywords, rather using it as a performance metric.

Look At Other Search Engine Data

Don’t have Bing Webmaster Tools for your website? Click here and get that ball rolling. Sure, Bing is going secure as well, but while obviously not as utilized as Google in terms of search traffic, Bing can still give you great insight when it comes to organic traffic and what people are searching for on their platform. It’s like getting a second opinion from the doctor – it’s just more insight.

Bing Webmaster Tools

Make Google Trends A Part Of Your Research

I just want to say I love Google Trends. It’s incredibly easy to use and is awesome for quick research for strategy meetings and even in-depth future content strategies. I have actually been laying out editorial calendars with a heavy hand of data from Google Trends lately. The great thing about Google Trends is it’s Google’s insight and it’s giving you the seasonality of searches, pinpointed down to local levels. It works wonders for your content strategies and also geo-targeting.

Google Trends

It also gives great insight on other related searches and “rising” searches to give you more insight on queries on the up-and-up.

Google Trends up and up


(Not provided) is not as scary as it comes across. Trust me. While we are looking at a world for SEO that has greatly changed over the last year, we are still fine when it comes to data. It’s available in multiple directions and is just a few clicks away from you at all times.

Get creative with how you get data, there is no right and wrong way of getting it. And truthfully, if you’ve ever wanted to try and test new outlets and processes, do it. The digital marketing and strategy world is the wild west right now and is yours to roam. These are some of the things I started doing early on in the (not provided) world; what are YOU doing? Would love to hear about it!

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About the author

Joe Stoffel

Joe knows what it takes to drive SEO results. He is an experienced SEO specialist who currently leads the SEO department and strategy at Marcel Digital.