How Top SEO Agencies Handle (not provided)

I spent the early part of this week hanging out with the affiliate crowd at Affiliate Summit East. I was lucky enough to be invited to share my thoughts on (not provided) in a roundtable.scott in his (not provided) shirt

I’ve been thinking…why does (not provided) matter? I think for competitive SEOs, it’s a major pain in the rear. You can’t attribute conversions to keywords, which sucks.

But for the average small business that has an agency or consultant, it’s not a huge deal for them. That’s WAY too much in the weeds for what most agencies present to clients each month.

So I talked to three of the top, most respected SEO agencies in the space here in New York. The three responses were very interesting and very varied. I think the bottom line, at least for agencies, is that (not provided) hasn’t hurt them dramatically, and may even be helping their business overall.

Seer Interactive (Rachael Gerson)

Rachael Gerson at Seer InteractiveRachel Gerson is a Analytics Consultant at Seer Interactive. She shared that in reporting to clients, “we will append (not provided) to the end of a URL so they can see exactly how much traffic is coming to that URL from (not provided) in Google Analytics”

This is a cool strategy. It takes some Google Analytics-fu, but basically creates a 2nd URL so you can breakdown any differences between (not provided) traffic to a URL and traffic where users aren’t coming from Google SSL.

How to do it: Use an Custom Advanced Filter in GA, a tutorial on which can be found here on eConsultantcy.

BlueGlass (Loren Baker)

Loren Baker from BlueGlassLoren Baker is the VP of Biz Dev at BlueGlass, and I thought his response to my question was really interesting. Instead of sharing how they report specifically, he explained how (not provided) has been actually beneficial to their business overall. I was shocked, until he explained…

“It’s been actually good for us,” Baker explained, “we now get more communication from the PPC side. Often our clients have a different agency for PPC, and (not provided) has forced us to communicate better.”

“Clients get less focused on just being #1 when we take a holistic approach, and (not provided) has helped us explain that better”

Wow. Talk about a taking a negative and turning it into a positive. I think this a great way for agencies to explain why exactly it’s so important to use PPC data in organic SEO campaigns.

How to do it: Use (not provided) as the excuse to get more data from the PPC side if you’re not getting it now. If they aren’t sympathetic (being data driven themselves) they are jerks.

PushFire (Rae Hoffman-Dolan & Sean Dolan)

@sugarrae from PushFireI asked @suggarae and Sean Dolan about how they handle (not provided) at their relatively new agency PushFire. Rae Hoffman is always one of my favorite speakers at conferences because she has her own very successful sites. She doesn’t just do client work. I have trouble trusting SEOs that only do client work…Anywho….

Pushfire’s response to dealing with (not provided) was simple and effective. They remove (not provided) from their reporting. Rae said, “We still get enough data from the 70% of traffic that is reporting the keyword referrer.”

Don’t let (not provided) get you down

All of these stragies could be implemented at your agency, and though it might depend on the client as to which strategy to employ. Many client’s won’t care at all about (not provided) and will only confuse them more. Just leave it out. Others login to analytics every day and the append-method might be the best strategy for them. For all clients using (not provided) to plead for more PPC data is a great idea.

Thanks Rachel, Loren, Rae and Sean for sharing their thoughts on how they deal with (not provided) with their clients.

How do you handle (not provided) with your clients?