Google Eliminates Keyword Reporting
Google threw a curveball at the Digital Marketing Industry this past Monday by eliminating keyword data for organic searches. Previously optional for users, now all searches have been switched over to encrypted searches using HTTPS. This means site owners will no longer be able to see the keywords and phrases people searched before coming to their site from Google. Data can still be seen from other search engines but since Google still dominates the market expect to see the dreaded “(not provided)” make up the majority of your search query reports. Whatever the reason behind Google’s recent actions, it is sure to change how digital marketing strategy is approached. Site owners no longer have the ability to segment users by keywords within their web analytics software.
There are many speculations and theories as to the reasons why Google made the switch to 100% encrypted searches, but since Google has yet to comment on the matter everything is pure speculation at this point. One theory is Google did this to greater protect user privacy when searching online. Perhaps this is in response to the release of the NSA documents earlier this year in attempt to make users feel more secure when they search on Google. However, I find this theory unlikely since search queries aren’t linked to a particular user. If you’re a Google conspiracy theorist maybe this is just another step to play down the importance of organic rankings and drive website owners to advertise in Google Adwords, since keyword data still exists there. Paid ads have certainly been gaining more real estate on search results over the past couple of years.
A more innocent theory is maybe Google did this just to free up data. I imagine all that data compiled over time takes up quite a bit of space in their servers. My personal favorite is Google eliminating keyword data with the intentions of persuading site owners and SEO companies to worry less about rankings and focus more about on-site content and user experience. However, writing good and helpful content is already trending in SEO after recent updates to the ranking algorithm. It wouldn’t make much sense for Google to eliminate keyword data with the intention of driving content marketing. It’s already here. Again, these are only speculations. We’ll have to wait till Google decides to release anymore information to understand the reasons behind this dramatic change.