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Uhh…So It Looks Like Google Stopped Providing Organic Keyword Data

Posted by Jason Wells on September 24th, 2013 at 8:49 am
A pretty disturbing article just dropped on Search Engine Journal just a little while ago. The title of the article says it all: Has Google Gone 100% NOT PROVIDED?'

Though Google hasn't made any grand pronouncements, there is a massive change in the amount of keyword data Google is passing. To quote:
"Various sites are reporting that the [NOT PROVIDED] percentage of organic keyword referrals has jumped from over 50%-60% to 95%, 99% and even 100% in some cases."

Basically marketers, suddenly, no longer have virtually any organic keyword data. Social media is blowing up about this, and sites like NotProvidedCount are seeing the same trend---massive increases in NOT PROVIDED keywords in the last several days.

What's going on?

We have no idea. Traditionally, Google has said that they would only protect (i.e. not pass) keyword data for any search conducted while someone is logged into any Google platform. It was part of their privacy policy. And for the last year or so, that number has been hovering around about 50% to 60% of Google searchers. It seems unreasonable to think that the number of people logged into Google apps could hockeystick so dramatically in the last week. It doesn't seem possible.

So...is Google now passing keyword data, or not, based on different criteria?

We have no clue.

What does this mean for marketers?

It means that agencies and other SEO-conscious digital marketers are going to have to be more concerned about rank-tracking rather than keyword tracking. That makes your job harder. It is now virtually impossible to write content for specific keywords and to track the results of content marketing around one specific keyword or group of keywords.

SEO just got harder.

What does this mean for call tracking?

This is an interesting question.

There are some call tracking companies not called LogMyCalls that have built their entire value prop around providing keyword call tracking data. In other words they tout their ability to marry a call to the keyword the caller searched. But, in order to provide this data, these call tracking companies rely on Google to pass keyword data to them.

Previously, Google was only passing this data around 50% of the time. Today, however, it appears Google is only passing the data baout 10% of the time.

This poses a MASSIVE problem for some call tracking companies. Basically Google just ruined their only value prop. That's a problem for them.

To be clear, LogMyCalls offers keyword call tracking (also called session-based call tracking), but we also offer alternatives. Some of our competitors don't. We realized over a year ago that keyword call tracking was dead or, at least, nearly dead.

We even wrote an article in Search Engine Journal over a year ago that proclaimed Google had destroyed keyword call tracking. We were probably a little premature in writing the obituary for keyword call tracking. We are not today. Keyword call tracking is dead as of 9/23/2013. Good thing LogMyCalls pioneered and offers other call tracking methods that allow marketers to, at least, track some level of useful organic data.

One Response to “Uhh…So It Looks Like Google Stopped Providing Organic Keyword Data”

  1. John Doe says:

    So is it safe to presume the NSA is now stuck with "Not Provided" data what with Google's deep concern for our privacy?

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