Last month, Google quietly made a change (they tend to do things like that). Effective immediately, Google is encrypting search results from all of its users. As a result, web analytics tools will no longer be able to identify which keywords are generating organic search traffic from Google to your website.
This change affects all web analytics tools.
Google’s decision affects all web analytics tools, including Google Analytics. It is no longer possible for any analytics system to identify what keywords visitors have searched for before they visited a website from Google.com. Google is now only sharing this information with its paid advertisers. Google’s stated reason for not providing keywords is privacy for its users.
What this means for web and marketing analytics.
In October of 2011, Google started encrypting keywords in search results for users who were signed into their Google accounts. Since then, the percentage of search traffic from Google with unknown keywords has been steadily increasing. As a result, marketers have had less information to work with. Unfortunately, now that Google is blocking all keywords, marketers are even more in the dark.
That said, there are still ways to measure and use search data to drive your marketing.
It is still possible to tell how much traffic your website is getting from organic search. Although you might not know the exact keywords, you can still correlate the work you do to optimize your site and create content to increases or decreases in organic search.
Other search engines like Bing and Yahoo continue to pass along keyword data. At present, Google.com has about 67% of search market share, Bing has 18%, and Yahoo has 11%. This data will give marketers at least some indication of which keywords are the most useful.
Rank will continue to play a role in helping measure the results of search engine optimization and content creation.
As a marketer, I am unhappy about these recent developments. I love having access to as much data as possible, and using that data to help create better experiences for my visitors, prospects, and customers. Google’s decision to withhold keyword data undoubtedly makes our jobs as marketers a little bit harder, but it won’t stop us from reaching the customers who are searching for our products and services.
What do you think of Google’s recent move? I’d love to know.