Google Analytics (GA) is one of the most widely-used analytics programs in the world. Although Google tends to make changes to most of their products and algorithms often, Google Analytics is a little different. It only gets fundamental changes maybe once per year … and even that might be pushing it. Granted, there are little updates here and there that happen, but generally the big ones don’t happen that often. This has been true, until recently.
There are a lot of people who want GA to focus only on what they want and need. A lot of people used to say that the user interface (UI) of their analytics product was terrible (my opinion is that it was OK, but could use some help in certain areas). They also noted that it was too hard to find things and that there was too much fluff data in the program. Knowing that they can’t please everyone, Google has started making changes where the most people are asking for them.
Within the last week or so, there has been two HUGE changes to Google Analytics. Both of which change the fundamentals of the program many of us had finally began to master. Both of these changes center on the UI of their product. This is fascinating to me. Not the fact that they made a change – the fact that they made two changes so close together. I want to go over each of these changes and share some of the things that I have observed.
There’s been a noticeable increase in the level of griping by SEOs about the way that Google has been treating them. The complaints are mostly focused on the rapid growth of (Not Provided) keywords from Google searches. While SEOs struggle with the changing tools available to them, what Google is trying to accomplish is much larger than frustrating the search optimization business – they intend to fundamentally change the way we approach our organic search strategies and I believe they’ll succeed.
About two years ago, Google started to slowly shut off our ability as website managers to see what searches brought visitors to our sites. Google decided to hide the keywords used by anyone using the search engine through an encrypted (https) connection and clicking an organic (non-paid) result – primarily those logged into Google when doing a search.
Their argument was that this is a privacy issue. Google explained that they should protect the browsing habits of anyone using an encrypted search. These users wanted greater privacy – that’s WHY they used an encrypted page, after all. Functionally, this meant anyone logged into Google for any reason including Gmail, Google Voice, YouTube or Google Analytics would now have their keyword searches hidden from destination websites.