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Unlocking the Not Provided Data – An Interview with Analytics SEO

Thursday, April 24, 2014
Grant Whiteside

As the latest round of ‘not provided’ changes begin to take shape, we are looking at the various ways the search marketing industry is dealing with the problem. One such company – and a vendor whose products we use ourselves – trying to work solutions to the issues left in the ‘not provided’ wake is Analytics SEO. Today the Ambergreen Blog talks to talks to Analytics SEO’s CEO, Laurence O’Toole, about the changes, a vendors point of view and about what they are going to do next.

GW: Laurence, we’ve all watched as the number of Organic keywords from Google reduce to almost nothing; as a search software vendor how much of an issue has it been for you?

LO’T:  From Google’s initial announcement back in 2011 it was obvious that this was going to cause issues for anyone utilising SEO and content marketing as part of their marketing mix.  It started to impact pretty much all our customers internationally immediately.  We did some initial data analysis which showed that within a few weeks certain sites (our own included) were getting way over the single digit percentage estimates of Not Provided traffic that Matt Cutts had intimated.  From then we started tracking this data across thousands of client sites and have steadily watched the Not Provided % grow, following Google’s move to secure search as a default setting this has grown to over 90% for the majority of sites. In the past 30 days we have seen an average of 84% Not Provided data across all websites that we monitor around the world.

This was just the start for us, since then we have started to build new data sources and algorithms to calculate and model this data.  I’ve likened it to a forensic scientist trying to piece together the complete story behind a murder scene using all the information at his disposal; Google has killed off a vital source of data for organic marketers and it’s our job to piece together the data we have to try and reconstruct the data to get as complete a picture of reality as possible.  We’ve had to re-write a huge proportion of our platform to help marketers solve this issue.

Grant and Laurence Brighton SEO

Grant and Laurence Brighton SEO 2014

GW: We have seen 4 techniques used, such as filtering the ‘not provided’ terms in GA and allocating them to a URL, using the SEO report in Google Analytics, using the Webmaster Tools report and Examining AdWords data. They’re all quite time consuming and anything but automated, what have Analytics SEO done make it a little easier?

LO’T: We have just launched a proprietary algorithm that uses a multitude of data sources including Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, Search Volumes, Keyword rankings and Click-thru estimates to give you our best estimate of the keywords that are generating organic traffic to your site.  We have re-written over a dozen modules and reports in our enterprise SEO platform to give our customers an integrated ways of reporting and analysing their content marketing and SEO efforts using this Intellitraffic algorithm.

GW: Does Google’s statement last week (regarding removing the paid keyword query data from Google Analytics [see our blog post on it here]) have any bearing on the significance of your new solution?

LO’T: No, we’re just focused on organic; but it will be interesting to see what changes are made to  the Adwords platform and if we can use some of our big data solutions to help solve this issues for paid marketers as well then we will.

GW: With Google announcing so many new products and changes now, does your own development road map change and what is the next area that Analytics SEO are going to focus on?

LO’T: Yes, they keep us on our toes!  Machine learning, Big SEO Data and Big Social Data are the next things you’ll see from us.

GW: What do think are going to be the biggest challenges for agencies and brands in the next 12 months and what words of wisdom do you have for your clients?

LO’T:  I think we’re going to see a focus on a more integrated approach, I see social media being more integrated across the marketing mix and we’ll be building tools and data to help marketing teams do this effortlessly.  I’d tell all my clients to store all their data securely – we can help! Remember, Google give’th and it take’th away!

Grant Whiteside
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