SEO Game Change: Google Analytics Stops Providing Organic Search Keyword Data

SEO Game Change: Google Analytics Stops Providing Organic Search Keyword Data

Search Engine Optimization

Keyword data has been an essential piece of developing an organic SEO strategy; knowing exactly what terms users searched for in order to visit your website allows you to see what keywords are important and most successful at converting users. Google Analytics has been an important place to gather this data, but Google has slowly been limiting the amount of keyword data visible to marketers, protecting information with a “not provided” tag. At first, the limits were annoying but understandable, with Google withholding keyword data from users searching while logged into their Google accounts. But on September 23, the search engine made all Google searches secure, hiding all keyword data behind the “not provided” category.

How does Google make a search secure? When a user starts a search, Google redirects them to the https:// version of their chosen Google domain. Now, whenever someone uses Google to conduct a search, it is run as an SSL encrypted search, which hides every search query. When the user clicks on a link to visit a website, the click first redirects so that the website cannot determine the keyword used by the searcher-turned-visitor.

A more difficult question to answer than how they did it is why they did it. Although many industry members see the move as a victory for online privacy, others see it as a more self-interested move. While users cannot see keyword data in their free Google Analytics accounts, advertisers that pay for Google Adwords can. Some marketers believe that Google is simply withholding keyword data to entice more professionals to pay for Adwords accounts. However, many experts, including Search Engine Watch, dismiss this as a malicious conspiracy theory.

So what does this all mean for search engine marketing? While the face of organic SEO will undoubtedly change, the industry isn’t dead. Marketers will have to find new avenues to extrapolate keyword data, which informs strategy. inSegment has been involved in search engine optimization for over 7 years; our team has seen several industry sea changes, and has weathered them all. We are confident in our ability to produce results, even in the face of this new challenge.