Hi! Lauren Kaye, here, with this week’s Content & Coffee with Brafton. Not to set off any alarms, but you might have seen the wealth of keyword data in your content analytics reports dry up. Click play to watch the full video, or read on below. 

Don’t panic – you’re not alone – and you’re not out of luck.

Webmasters have noticed that Google Analytics is no longer providing keyword data for a growing portion of their organic search site traffic, which leaves them in the dark about which terms are bringing visitors to their landing pages. This news has caught the attention of the search marketing industry because keyword traffic data is a guiding light for SEO and content marketing strategies.

Brafton has been tracking the portion of website traffic for which keyword data is “Not Provided.” In the fourth quarter of 2012, 40 percent of searches came in as “Not Provided.” In August 2013, this had risen to 49 percent. Now, brands are seeing that 73 percent of Google traffic coming to their pages does not provide keyword data.

Why is Google drastically cutting off the flow of keyword data? There are a couple of theories. Search Engine Land‘s Danny Sullivan thinks the search engine could be encrypting more data to because of concerns about the NSA spying on users’ activity. Some conspiracy theorists think the move aims to incentivize the use of AdWords campaigns because marketers can still retrieve keyword data through its AdWords System.

So where does this leave marketers? The outcome may not be as dire as it seems. At least for now, companies can still use Webmaster Tools for smart keyword tracking, but they can continue to use Google Analytics for granular information to steer their campaigns in the right direction.

Segment off your “Not Provided” traffic and look for other clues that will help you determine what this audience is looking for. Which landing pages do they visit? What links do they click next? By reverse engineering the search process, you can make an educated judgment about the information your visitors are looking for – and that’s perhaps more valuable than the keywords. Use these insights to create relevant content to give them useful answers.

Catch you next week, and happy content marketing!

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.