2013 9 24 mindshare digital pov google stops providing
Phillip Ohren 24 September 2013
Google has quietly announced that all users will now use a secure connection. Essentially, users who now go
to ‘http://www.google.com/’ (or a local version) will now be redirected to ‘https://www.google.com’ – the
‘https’ in the URL means that user keyword data is now encrypted and can no longer be received by analytics
tools like Google Analytics, Omniture or other third party analytics tools. This will have an impact on SEO
amongst other things.
For search marketers, especially SEOs, this news certainly shakes things up as they will no longer be able to
see which organic keywords are bringing users to a given website.
Instead, Google will hide organic referral data from secure users and label it as ‘(Not provided)’. This data is
normally relied on in order to optimize website content and determine how users behave based on the
keywords they searched for.
I.e. In Google Analytics: ‘Cheap Flights to Sydney = 34 clicks’ will become ‘(Not Provided) = 34 clicks’
Secure search was originally released in October 2011; however it only affected users who were logged into a
Google product. Over time, the number of logged-in users increased therefore increasing the percentage of
‘(Not provided)’ data which is expected to reach 100% by the end of 2013.
Google has always claimed that its decisions to roll out secure search are related to user privacy. However it is
still possible to access almost identical data for Paid Search keywords using Google’s AdWords product
regardless of users being logged-in or not. As result, Google is often criticized for this seeming contradiction
in its policy.
This change will essentially affect anyone who relied on organic keyword data from tools such as Google
Analytics to help form their content or any other marketing strategies. However, a top-level version of this data
will be still available using Google’s Webmaster Tools with greater detail available from the Google AdWords
system, as previously mentioned.
From a wider industry perspective, access to free organic keyword data has benefited brands, publisher and
merchants for many years. Whilst the fact that it will still be available for paying advertisers may lead to claims
of hypocrisy, it does at least mean that this valuable data insight is not being turned off entirely.
Having access to organic keyword data runs parallel to providing insight into how people find your products
and services. Also, when considering that 30% of all search queries are for terms that have never been
searched for before, keyword data provides marketers with insight into emerging trends. Not having access to
this data at all would cause problems for thousands of websites, from major brands to smaller entities. This
change cements the fact that to succeed moving forwards brands and publishers must integrate Paid & Owned
Media data sources, such as AdWords, in order to continue to access user insights.