Nearly 2 years ago Google stopped providing keyword data to Google Analytics users for searches performed on google.com while logged into a Google account. What this meant was if you searched on Google for ‘mdwebpro’ and clicked a result, the site you landed on was no longer provided with the search phrase (‘mdwebpro’) that brought you to their site. This keyword data was incredibly useful for marketing purposes. In many industries it revealed ways in which consumers thought about a product or service that previously were unknown to the service provider.
Two years ago the writing was on the wall that this keyword data which marketers had relied on for so long was going to be short lived — at least as supplied by Google. Earlier this week Google announced they are working on no longer passing keywords for any searches whether the user is logged in or not. As of today it looks like all searches on Google are currently encrypted so the change has already been made. This means data that once was critical to identifying how the content on your site is performing, is now completely gone. Of course Yahoo! and Bing still provide this information but on the majority of the sites we manage, Yahoo! and Bing collectively make up less than 10% of search visits.
Google claims this move is to protect their users’ privacy. The problem with this claim is that Google still provides this data to paying AdWords users. If you are paying for clicks, you will continue to see the keyword data for all of your paid traffic — apparently Google cares about privacy except when they are getting paid. So Google’s message to us is, pay up because the free ride is over. Paid search is Google’s bread and butter accounting for $12 Billion of Google’s $13 Billion in revenue from Q2 2013.