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Changes to Ranking and Traffic Reporting

Changes to Ranking and Traffic Reporting

The last few weeks have seen some considerable developments in the search optimisation landscape, namely;

  1. Google’s decision to hide all keyword data and;
  2. a Greater localisation in SERPs (Search Engine Results Page – i.e. Google.com.au)




Google confirmed around the end of September that it would be encrypting all search data, regardless of whether a user was signed in privately or not.

This means that rather than seeing a user had searched for “blue shoes”, “green shoes” or “red apples” and found your site, it will now show (not provided).

Google has slowly been replacing keyword data with “not provided” since 2011 however this past September and October saw an unprecedented increase in the amount of data that Google is encrypting - see the increase in hidden keywords (orange line) below.

not provided traffic change

From an SEO perspective this move by Google is a little sad. Losing organic keyword data means whenever a user lands on your site, we’ll have no idea what the person was searching for.

The reason Google gave for this change was for user privacy (however they are still happy to report on user locations, their model of computer, mobile device and how long and which pages they visited on your site).

The 3 most viable alternatives to regain some keyword data are to;

  1. Analyse your on-site search (if you provide it)
  2. Use Google Adwords (Currently advertisers still get full keyword data from Google)
  3. Look at historical data (particularly stable for some seasonal relevance)

For us here at Woocom, our strategies have been adapting with these changes (albeit a little more rapidly lately).

We are focusing on more strategic behaviour looking into 2014.

  • Measuring increase in organic traffic and behaviour,
  • Brand Exposure,
  • Referrer data and;
  • how these increase “goals” and “conversions” on your site

For example; one of the biggest trends for web in 2013 was an increase in mobile search as smartphone use increased dramatically. (Some sites saw almost 50% of their traffic from mobile users!).

traffic by mobile

What we did; we converted websites of largely affected clients to mobile responsive designs, effectively reducing their mobile bounce rates and search visibility.

Increased mobile usage also highlighted the importance of Google+ Local listings or maps results – so we claim and optimise Google+ Local and business pages on Google (more on this in a moment).


Tracking ranking results has always been a tricky business. along with dealing with the general rank fluctuations and sometimes different search results depending on which web browser you are using, Google has been busy introducing more blended information into your search experience;

  1. Personalization: Search engines have been personalising your results based on your search history and your social connections.
  2. Geographic bias: Search engines also customise results based on your location.

Local maps location

And with anticipation of Google Now’s introduction to desktop Google will become more and more aware of your interactions across devices and channels and customise your experience concurrently.

What should we take from this?

We know that Google’s own products and services play a crucial role in what shows on their information cards so it is important we use and optimise for Google’s array of products (Google+, +Local, Business Pages etc.) The good news is we’ve probably already started this for you.

The bad news is it is difficult for us to provide a stable rank tracking report. Mainly due to Geographic bias, we often see a different result than users in your target city or area. Therefore, to avoid confusion we are not providing a ranking report this month (don’t panic we will provide one shortly). If you twist my arm I’ll still send your ranking report, but only upon request – just give me a call.

What we are doing; we are working hard to provide rank tracking down to your geo location based not simply upon Australia-wide searches but targeted to your region, city and even pre-defined latitude and longitude if required.

i will find you

TL;DR... (Too Long Didn’t Read) - What are the take aways?

1) We are not going to be reporting on keyword data in your analytics report any longer.

2) You don’t have a ranking report this month due to some recent Google changes to geo-localised search results. We are currently migrating systems so that we may maintain an accurate report of your rankings going forward. We will update you again shortly.

On: 05 Nov 2013