Online marketers beware: “Not Provided” is about to hit once more. This time, Google is making changes that will bring the dreaded “not provided” keyword to paid search.
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Singhal: “Users want their searches secure”
Amit Singhal, Google’s Head of Search, revealed Google’s plans to implement changes that will result to more “not provided” results in his keynote at SMX West 2014. “Over time, we have moved to secure searches. Referrers are not passed to webmasters, but they are passed to advertisers. But webmasters get a lot of information in Webmaster Central,” he began to explain.
“But over a period of time, we’ve been looking at this issue. We’ve heard from our users that they do want their searches secure – this is really important to users. We like how things have gone on with the organic side of search,” he added.
Singhal did not give any other details at SMX, but he promised users will see changes soon. “We have nothing to announce, but we have discussed with the ads side about how we should handle this in the future,” he said.
The Official Announcement
Singhal’s revelation was only the beginning: yesterday, Google posted the official announcement on their blog that they will be removing the query from the referrer on ad clicks originating from Google.com. You can expect the occurrence of “not provided” in your paid search campaigns to reach organic levels in the following months. This could be a major setback if your current campaign tracking system depends on this data alone.
In the official announcement, Paul Feng, Google’s Product Management Director for AdWords, offered alternatives for tracking your performance on paid search.
- AdWords API Search Query Perforamnce Report / AdWords Scripts Report service – For generating reports or automating keyword management with query data
- Adding ValueTrack parameter – For customizing landing pages, Feng suggested to look at the keywords that generate ad clicks instead of looking at queries.
What This Means for You
It seems as though personalizing search, while becoming more urgent, is becoming more challenging. Google’s algorithms are all about content and user experience personalization, and yet they are limiting access to information online marketers and businesses need to do it right.
The good news is, as Feng had written in the official announcement, there are alternatives to make up for the lost data. As our partners, you’ll be happy to know that you can continue tracking your referral data through our advanced reporting dashboard. Talk to your account manager today to learn more about how we do this for you.
If you’re not yet our partner, sign up today to claim your free dashboard and launch your first campaign. Keep checking back for more updates!