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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Dealing with (not provided)

Hi all,

I put together a video that outlines what I consider to be the best steps for dealing with (not provided).

Thanks to Google for making our lives that little bit more interesting:


If anyone has any other ideas I'm all ears.

Dave Collins Send private email
Monday, September 30, 2013
Is the "100% not provided" for Google organic search data definitely going to happen. Or is it just a rumour?
Andy Brice Send private email
Monday, September 30, 2013
It's already underway. Check your % for the last month, then check the last 3-4 days.

The data we now see is completely and utterly non-representative.
Dave Collins Send private email
Monday, September 30, 2013
Thank you very much!
Alex Vasilevsky Send private email
Monday, September 30, 2013
My pleasure. Hope it helps.
Dave Collins Send private email
Monday, September 30, 2013
I have no idea what this is about and neither the above discussion nor the text on the referenced page helped much.

Here is what I understand from what you have said:

1. Google changed something.
2. Might have something to do with keywords.
3. (not provided) is meant to summarize whatever this issue is about.

It seems obvious to me that "(not provided)" is not a known and established technical term whose unique and specific meaning regarding keywords is understood.

Therefore I recommend you not assume your audience understand whatever specialist lingo has just come up and explain what it is actually about.

As it is this all reads like:

Hello, are your Troxies Nebulized? We have the solution for renebulizing your Troxies. As you know, Megacorp is providing unnebulized troxy frums now and this is unlikely to ever change. Our free video tells you how to adapt to the new scenario.
Scott Send private email
Monday, September 30, 2013
It used to be possible to find out what search terms people were typing in Google to arrive at your web site.

E.g. I could go to analytics or my web logs and see that N people had arrived at my website after typing "wedding seating plan" that week.

Then Google started encrypting the search terms for people who were logged in to Google, so you couldn't tell what terms they typed. Instead of the search term they just show '(not provided)'.

Now it looks like they will encrypt all searches.

This is going to have a big effect on the SEO industry as a lot of the data they use will no longer be available.

Note that you can still see what terms people type before they click on your adwords ad. Google aren't going to slay that golden goose.
Andy Brice Send private email
Monday, September 30, 2013
Andy, great explanation (I had no idea, either).  But why is Google doing this?
Racky Send private email
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Moz folks are trying to come up with workarounds:


those do not look very reliable to me though...
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
> But why is Google doing this?

Google says it protects privacy from likes of NSA.

But other people say Google pushes everyone to go under AdSense umbrella where the very same information is available.
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Well this should kill the SEO business.  As I understand it there is no useful free information available from Google anymore.  Besides, the bottom line is sales, not hits, so if you want actionable information, you need to know something about your customers.  The big players have been on to this for a while, but small fry could  up to now keep themselves occupied with reading search engine tea leaves.  No more agonizing if "morning meal" has more monetary value than "breakfast."

The paradigm shift here is from getting your product to float towards the top of the search result pool and scooping a few up in a net, to going where your customers are and reeling them in one at a time.  It's like going from fishing from a bridge to getting in a boat and finding the best fishing spots in the lake.  It might even force marketers to study their market instead of spreadsheets and pie charts. 

I think Google has already killed and cooked its golden goose, and is now sitting down to eat it.  With paid listings at the top of all but the most obscure search results, followed by Wikipedia, a block of images and links to Youtube videos, there is little incentive for searchers to look for companies or products they aren't already aware of.  Then there is the byzantine system Google has for rigging Adword bids and a deliberate fudging of data and results for advertisers. 

If Google feels it is missing out on advertising revenue from mobile devices, it forces advertisers to include mobile devices in their advertising spend.  If Google feels it is missing out on advertising revenue because SEO gives advertisers tools to measure the ROI of their advertising, it takes away or obscures the data necessary to measure ROI. 

We currently buy listings for only our product names.  That way, when someone can't remember the URL for Benny's Industrial Pressure Washers, they will see our ad at the top instead of some competitor in Toledo badmouthing our pressure washers.  None of our divisions have been able to show a positive effect on sales for any related keywords.  And charts that show how our website went from 1000 hits to 1500 hits don't carry any weight in the executive boardroom.  Of course we are selling real, physical goods not web apps, but then most people are more willing to pay real money for physical goods than for virtual services.  YMMV, blah, blah, blah.
Howard Ness Send private email
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
I don't think that this is the end of SEO at all.

I've been working in SEO since 1997 and have seen more predictions of SEO's imminent demise than I can begin to remember.

Google have changed the whole approach that is now needed to carry out effective SEO, but that's all.

I saw that it was only a matter of time until this happened, and so have been developing and working with the alternative approaches that I outlined in the video for the last few months.

The bottom line is that having to work in this way is far more time consuming, and requires more of a basic skillset than just looking in Google Analytics, but it can be done.

I know this because we've been working in this way for our clients since the beginning of May.

In a sense SEO is now a more tempting opportunity. Most small and even medium-sized businesses will simply not have the time to take care of their SEO. And the medium to large sized companies will have managers reluctant to invest in something that's even more difficult to measure and quantify.

In other words many of your competition will now neglect SEO even more than before. This is a very good time to start focusing on this yourself.
Dave Collins Send private email
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Your presentation does a decent job of explaining what has been removed or lost. It does not provide any takeaway for moving forward with whatever Google is doing now. All you're saying is, preserve your keyword history by saving it offline before it disappears, but there is no indication what we do in the future to deal with Hummingbird. I think you're saying (but I am not certain) that we are all now merely spectators - Google is now not providing any information to us for optimization purposes, so we are now flying blind.

Suppose someone has a new site and is interested in SEO. What do they do? Call you?
Profit and Loss Send private email
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Did you watch the whole thing?

I outlined four concrete & actionable steps to take. And we are absolutely not flying blind.

If someone has a brand new site, nothing has changed. The initial optimisation steps are identical.

Might I suggest that you watch it again?
Dave Collins Send private email
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Dave, I fail to follow the logic of "your competitors have abandoned SEO because it doesn't appear to do anything, so you should invest in SEO to be different."

There are still people who pan for gold, but they have a non-measurable impact on gold mining.  If you can continue to earn positive income by providing SEO services, more power to you, but for goodness sake don't suggest that "SEO is now a more tempting opportunity."
Howard Ness Send private email
Tuesday, October 01, 2013

>I fail to follow the logic of "your competitors have abandoned SEO
>because it doesn't appear to do anything, so you should invest in > SEO to be different."

People don't abandon SEO because it doesn't work, they abandon it because it's a big, time consuming task. The opportunity cost is enormous.

Most successful online businesses will have already seen the very real benefits of SEO, but that isn't the point. We all have a limited amount of time and resources at our disposal.

The point that I was trying to make is that SEO has always been something traditionally left on a to-do list.

With the recent change, the skillset required to even handle the basics will be significantly more advanced, making it more likely for more companies to drop the ball altogether.

So if, for example, you were prepared to learn the new skills and adapt to the new reality, you would be able to effectively manage your SEO, while most of your competition will simply never get round to it.

This has nothing to do with our services. If you saw this a sales push, subtle or otherwise, then I'm sorry. The video has been viewed by an enormous number of people, most of whom have no idea who I am or what I do. I don't even mention that we provide this service nor do I provide a link to our services.

This was my sharing a technique that we've found to be extremely effective.
Dave Collins Send private email
Wednesday, October 02, 2013

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