We have previously discussed the ominous (not provided) that shows up in Google Analytics after Google decided to withhold the search data of users logged into Google account. Rather than come down on one side of the debate, Dave Davies‘ blog post for Search Engine Watch has some useful tips and ideas on how to use the features in Google Analytics to extrapolate some of the missing data.
One of his hypotheses is that those who are logged in are going to have a different analytics profile than those who are not logged in. I have pondered this as well, and thought that more tech connected and tech savvy people may be more likely to be logged in, and may exhibit different online behavior. This behavior could vary based on what topics are being searched. It turns out that this appears to be true, at least for the sample outlined in the article.
An interesting fact is that those users who are logged in are getting a more personalized search experience, because Google very likely knows their location and past search history. The personalized search will alter search behavior because of the assumptions it makes about the current search and what Google will choose to display.
By delving deeper into the analytics data that is still available, Dave could see that a higher percentage of those logged in were using a branded search to arrive at his site than those who were not logged in. He concluded that this made sense based on the fact that users looking for internet marketing by brand were more likely to be logged in. He applied the same principles to other data to glean information and make some extrapolations about hidden data, using what is known.
Although it is still annoying that Google is shielding data, methods are being researched and tested to find the information we need to optimize sites and market brands and businesses online. We love the challenge!
Photo Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/889385