Google recently announced that they will be encrypting Search for logged-in users. It’s their way of saying that we are looking out for the searchers’ best interests by making sure the data of “signed in” users is not susceptible to being stolen or tracked or used or abused. I’m not privy to the specifics of how secure or not secure it really is but in doing so they have also announced that website owners with analytics will not be able to view the keywords that these visitors used to access their website. Now website owners will see a (not provided) referral from Google. Somehow Paid Search is immune to this tightening of security and speculation is rife that this move was targeted at SEO companies. If anything, the target is the business owner who might be interested in this granular data and ends up jumping on the Adwords bandwagon, forking over more money to big G. But that’s the conspiracy theorists. I’m more inclined to suggest that it’s a shame that this is the only solution they have been able to come up with. While SEO’s are impacted, the business owners are the ones who are really being borked by this latest move.
So for us, it’s really just a matter of here we go again, how do we adapt what we do without diluting impact for our clients? Right now we’re not 100% certain, we continue to do what we do and start to address any anomalies in our reports as they come through but you should expect to see a reduction in the number of keywords driving visitors to your website (so far it’s a pretty small number). Rankings (for what they are worth) will remain trackable but the detailed keyword referrals will no longer apply.
So that’s a shame, not the end of the world as some SEO companies fear but a real shame. Forget about SEO and Internet Marketing companies who report on these statistics. Think about the website owners, especially those who use this data to help focus their business strategies and goals. Again, not the end of the world for them but a loss of some very valuable information.