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Changes to Search in GoSquared

Google’s Not Provided changes and what they mean for you

Changes to Search in GoSquared – Google Not Provided

Every day we make changes to GoSquared in the interest of our customers – to make it easier and faster for them to understand what’s happening on their websites.

Today we’re introducing a few changes to how we define search traffic in GoSquared.

Google Search terms “Not provided”

Recently, Google has been making moves to increase the number of searches where no keyword data is provided. What does this mean? Analytics services like GoSquared (and, believe it or not, Google Analytics) cannot show which keywords and phrases your visitors are searching on Google before reaching your site.

Why is Google hiding search term information?

There are many theories out there for why Google is hiding search term information from their users. The hundreds of posts out there on the topic range from conspiracy theories to suggestions for how it’ll help you become a better marketer.

Our belief, shared by our good friend Peter O’Neil of L3Analytics, is that Google has made these changes primarily to improve the overall quality of content and search on the web, and reduce the power of those who abuse their SEO knowledge.

Essentially, Google Search was originally intended to index the content of the web – finding the best content out there and helping you reach it as quickly as possible when you type a term into the Google Search field.

With the rise of SEO, and an ever growing group of cowboys out to make a quick buck (these two circles can sometimes overlap), often content is produced specifically to perform well against a desired search term. As you can imagine, if people are creating content for specific search terms, rather than just creating good content with the hope that Google will find it, then this is the opposite of what Google Search was originally intended for.

By hiding the search term information, Google is putting everyone on a level playing field. It’s certainly now harder to write content for a specific search and monitor the performance of the content against the search terms you optimised for.

Be sure to check out the Moz blog to understand what SEO means now that search terms aren’t provided.

How GoSquared classifies Google as a traffic source

Since the start, GoSquared has classed visitors from Google, Bing, Yahoo! and other popular search engines as Search traffic if they had a search query associated with them.

You may have noticed “Google”, “google.co.uk”, “google.com”, and a variety of other international Google domains showing in your Sites tab of the Sources widget in GoSquared. We used to show these in the Sites tab as Google often passes external links from other apps and services such as Gmail and Google Docs through their URL forwarder, so we didn’t feel it was right to assume these visitors were from search unless we could specifically detect a search query.

Since Google’s latest changes, though, GoSquared will now be classing all traffic from Google as Search. Depending on the type of site you run, this should cause a slight reduction in the number of visitors from Sites and an increase in the number of visitors reported from Search.

As always, please contact us at any time via email or Twitter if you have any questions. We would love to discuss these changes with you, and if you have any suggestions for how we can improve traffic source detection in GoSquared further please let us know.

Written by
James is CEO and one of the co-founders of GoSquared. He also likes to talk about design.

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