On October 18, 2013 Google announced that it would no longer show website owners the keywords users entered into search to get to their sites through Google Analytics. Google refers to this change as “secure search” and industry search gurus refer to this as “not provided.” For consumers this means that their searches on Google are more “secure” because less of their search data is shared. But what does this mean to marketers?

Prior to this change, your digital marketing team could use this keyword data inside Google Analytics to optimize pages on your website for particular search terms. For example, if Google showed that “chocolate recipe” was driving frequent visits to a landing page, your team could load that page with more content related to “chocolate recipe” to drive even more traffic.  But now you can’t see these referring search terms on a page by page level. What to do?

The answer is to use another tool that Google provides- Google Webmaster Tools (GWT)*. After submitting your site to GWT, you will be able to see search terms which drive traffic to your site- you just won’t be able to see them page by page. But this data can still help you plan content and strategies to drive traffic. You’ll be able to see that “chocolate recipes” is a strong referring search term, so your team can develop corresponding content. Then in terms of measurement, you will be able to track overall traffic increases to your new optimized content. It’s less precise than before, but still a good way to plan, manage and measure website optimization. To learn how to view search queries in Google Webmaster Tools go here.

Note: * Bing also provides Webmaster Tools.