Google has made measuring content effectiveness even more difficult for content marketers.
A few years ago Google said:
Google in 2011 explained that it “will no longer report the query terms that the user searched on to reach your site” and that it “created the token ‘(not provided)’ within Organic Search Traffic Keyword reporting.”
Google understood that at least 10% of their organic search result keywords would become “unknowns” to protect the privacy of Google users while logged into their accounts. But this month the privacy protection by Google has been extended to protect all of their search engine users, even when they are not logged into their accounts. So eventually “Not Provided” will cover ALL of the organic searches reported by Google Analytics.
Below are 12 other ways to check the effectiveness of your content marketing:
- Become historians: No one really knows whether Google will hide Google Analytics anytime soon, but now would be a good time to organize and save any historic keyword data (including keyword phrases used over different periods of time in Google Analytics).
- Open a Google AdWords account: Google isn’t so concerned with privacy that it won’t continue to provide keyword data for paid search customers who want to know what keywords people used before clicking on their ads.
- Don’t ignore Bing and Yahoo!: Like other solutions for the “Not Provided” issue, you have to make some assumptions that may be off the mark. In other words, you can look at the traffic you get from Bing and estimate what you might be getting from Google — if your natural keyword rankings are comparable on both search engines.
- Track your search engine rankings: There are multiple tools available to help you paint a somewhat accurate picture of your search performance (as rankings can vary by IP address, search engine data centers, and other variables). Combined with tools that forecast the number of monthly searches for keywords, ranking data will continue to be invaluable.
- Make sure your conversion data is readily available: Track your forms and eCommerce sales with website analytics so you will at least know when organic “Not Provided” visitors influence some type of lead or sale (for more information on this, see this Google eCommerce tutorial).
- Pay attention to your landing pages: In your website analytics, landing pages are a critical area to study (given that search engine traffic affects that data). If you know your target keywords for the page, your rankings, conversion goals, and other estimated keyword search data, you can determine whether natural search engine traffic is helping those pages perform well for your company.
- Use Google Webmaster Tools: For the time being, you can still analyze up to 2,000 keyword phrases over a 90-day period in Google Webmaster Tools. Again, grab that history for future reference — it’s anyone’s guess how long it will remain available.
- Evaluate third-party offerings: Look for major enterprise SEO platform products to launch innovative products in the near future that supplement the search data that had been available via Google.
- Try some web analytics “acrobatics”: When “Not Provided” originally hit the scene in 2011, some online marketers started to devise ways to explore the potential of using other data to draw conclusions about the natural keyword data that had become inaccessible (e.g., through the use of filters and advanced segments in Google Analytics).
- Use site search: You can get some insights from your internal site search that can capture keyword phrases that people use once they reach your website.
- Review the anchor text of inbound links: Study the anchor text to see what types of keywords or phrases others use when linking to your website.
- Keep your other best practices in play: As central as keyword data is to SEO, content marketers have plenty of other tools, tactics, and strategies to help them stand out from the competition and measure their results, such as:
- Create content that is high-quality and reflects buyer persona's and business objectives.
- Pursue inbound links from authoritative websites.
- Develop ongoing relationships with influencers who may champion your cause, product or service.
- Step up your efforts with social media.
What other ways can you share that still effectively measure content effectiveness?