Google Analytics: Wins and Losses

We got access to the search queries, but we’ve lost some of our keyword data. Google will no longer show the keywords used by people who are signed into their Google accounts. Instead we are being told “not provided” for those visitors. For the week since the change took place, “not provided” was the #3 keyword bringing visitors to our lab site, FreshPlans.

The first question is, just what have we lost?

Unfortunately, it’s hard to know. We initially figured we’d lose a lot of data, because everyone we know stays logged in at Google all the time. This is the problem with “everyone we know” thinking — it isn’t accurate. All of our clients have less than 2% of total traffic showing “not provided.” At FreshPlans, “not provided” visitors comprised .64% of our total traffic, so it may just be so few of the visitors that it doesn’t affect our information much.ย  This is in fact Google’s position on the question.

They say that this is a necessary step to preserve user privacy, and that it won’t affect our aggregate data.

“Not provided” is the #3 keyword for that week, however, out of 1998 keywords, so it doesn’t look to us as though there’s no change in the data.

What’s more, people who are logged in to Google when they search may be a special subset of our visitors. We may be losing information about a group which is different in an important way from our other visitors. For Haden Interactive, tech-savvy visitors are the most likely to be our customers. If we lose information on what our tech savvy visitors are looking for, that could matter. Even if they’re just fans of Google rather than tech savvy people, we may be losing data on an important segment of our business, which includes training for Google Analytics and assistance with Google advertising. At FreshPlans, we may be losing information about the more plugged-in teachers, who are certainly an important part of our target audience.

At this point, all we can say for sure is that it bears watching.

 


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