Google Analytics Keyword Not Provided

Google Analytics Referring Keywords

Hmmm…. this isn’t good.

Google will now begin encrypting searches that people do by default, if they are logged into already through a secure connection. The change to SSL search also means that sites people visit after clicking on results at Google will no longer receive “referrer” data that reveals what those people searched for, except in the case of ads.

Google has finally decided to stop telling us which keywords are sending traffic to our sites from the search engine. That’s right – there could well be a time in the near future where you can’t visit Google Analytics to see which keyword sent you the most visits to a page (from Google anyway). Apparently – it is to improve ‘privacy’……

Google Analytics will instead display – keyword “not provided”.

In Google’s new system, referrer data will be blocked. This means site owners will begin to lose valuable data that they depend on, to understand how their sites are found through Google. They’ll still be able to tell that someone came from a Google search. They won’t, however, know what that search was. SearchEngineLand

Don’t panic quite yet. At the moment – only is affected – and it’s been reported that this first roll out is for users signed into Google, and at the beginning, this will only affect a small % of search queries - but it is may well roll out to other regions, like the UK, in the near future.

This is what I call hypocrisy at work. Google cares about your privacy, unless they make money on you, then they don’t. The fact is that due to this change, AdWords gets favored over organic results. Once again, Google gets to claim that it cares about your privacy and pulls a major public “stunt”. The issue is, they don’t care about your privacy enough to not give that data to their advertisers. SEOBook

… apparently ADVERTISERS will still get the data through Google AdwordsHmmm…. so the ‘privacy’ thing is utter bollocks, then. If we pay money we get the data.

You can still get some of this data if you sign up for Google Webmaster Tools which, lets face it, (prepare for a wildly speculative comment) is probably used against you when handing outdoorway page penalties and the like (E.G when you have multiple sites double-dipping organic listings).

Cutts stressed that Google Webmaster Central shows the top 1,000 queries that a site appeared for at Google — as well as was selected for — over a 30 day period, and that you can even pick any particular day over that period for downloading.

But it still shakes things up for SEO if this does become the norm. I have been getting into conversion optimisation of late too….. I wonder how this change – if rolled out – will shake up this, perfectly legitimate, area of web marketing?

It’s not the end of seo by a long shot, but IT’S A GOOD TIME TO BE AN EXPERIENCED SEO, I will say that.

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18 Responses

  1. Shaun Anderson says:

    I wrote all that and the question remains…. how can it be a privacy thing if we can pay Google to see it?

  2. The day Google took on SEO, CRO and Analytics | Holistic Search Marketing says:

    [...] Now We Will Need To Pay To See Keyword Referrer Data? – SEO Under Attack – The Google Analytics Keyword Data Apocalypse – [...]

  3. Reactions Come Loud, Fast & Often Angry To Google's Switch To Encrypted Search says:

    [...] Shaun Anderson, on Hobo: Now We Will Need To Pay To See Keyword Referrer Data? … apparently ADVERTISERS will still get the data through Google Adwords. Hmmm… [...]

  4. Article Recap on the Google Analytics “Secure” Change | Search Engine Journal says:

    [...] Now We Will Need To Pay To See Keyword Referrer Data? – Shaun Anderson [...]

  5. hometextilegroup says:

    Google may want to please users and respect privacy as much as they say they do, but it is still a bussiness! Somehow they want to make money off you. The feeling I get from Google is more and more they want to force all commercial websites to adwords. The most frightening developpment I see is the Google Trusted Store development that they are testing right now. Think of it, who is going to buy from you if even google does not trust you?? Let alone what it might do to your rankings?

  6. Calum says:

    This is madness from the big G. I wonder, will we need to spend a certain amount on Adwords or does a customer who pays a fiver a week in clicks get to see the data? Or, worse, do we only get to see data for keywords we’re bidding on. hmmm indeed.

  7. Jon says:

    From what I understood the data will be still available just not on referral – which I think is fair enough. You can get it through analytics or webmaster tools but you will not be able to customize user experience depending on the keyword used to visit your site. But if you plan properly you would still know what this is. I don’t use referral codes to identify best keywords but rather scripts like google analytics.

  8. Moosa Hemani says:

    Privacy.. Google? #wth i mean i would strongly agree with SEOBook comment this is “hypocrisy at work.”

  9. Dan Stativa says:

    This is very bad news… very bad news indeed. It will make the job of an seo a lot harder, and it actually forces you into Adwords. I wonder when the time will come when Google will start making these money oriented decisions. I guess all the academis/resear/study crap in their ages ago manifesto was really bs.

  10. Doc Sheldon says:

    As you said, Shaun, how can it be about privacy, if the data is for sale? I’d have expected s bone-headed stunt like this from Facebook… the users’ privacy has never been at the top of their list of priorities. But then, they never really pretended to care. Google, on the other hand, has always professed to be concerned about protecting privacy. I fail to see what privacy they’re protecting, though… a keyword hardly identifies a user to me. Did someone put Schmidt back in charge, and I failed to notice?

  11. Doc Sheldon says:

    Sat in on an interesting chat, after posting the above, and was treated to a very convincing argument that has me thinking that G’s “privacy” concerns, as the stated reason for this action, while technically correct, may be unintentionally misleading. And as for any additional advantage over their competition, I’m also inclined to believe that said gain is just some fortuitous coincidence. I sincerely doubt that there was any intent to deprive SEOs of any data that could be legitimately used to optimize sites for organic search.

    • JLC Dave says:

      I’ve been away from a net connection since all this came out so playing catchup (as per normal!). I can’t help but get the feeling we/I have missed something somewhere with all this. I’d be interested to hear what your opinions are Doc off the back of the chat you sat in on.

  12. SEO Experts May Need a New Job : Beyond Search says:

    [...] SEOs are in a tizzy with this information. Search Engine Journal reported on it, Holistic Search Marketing laments on the changes here, and HOBO hypothesizes on the future. [...]

  13. Fannak SEO says:

    This is very bad news.It will make the job of an seo a lot harder, and it actually forces you into Adwords. I wonder when the time will come when Google will start making these money oriented decisions.

  14. emedoutlet says:

    I am worried. There will be a day, when the Google and it’s all services including Gmail will be paid services.

  15. Laurence O'Toole says:

    Putting privacy concerns aside for one minute, the big unanswered question so far is what percentage of organic site traffic is affected, and is it as low as Google has suggested? We’ve just completed our own research on (not provided)instances in Google Analytics reports and this is what we have found so far. Across a sample of 140 websites analysed (this research base will grow by the day) since 18th October to date, the average number of (not provided) queries expressed as a percentage of organic keyword visits was 2.82%. Shout if you want a link to the blog post with the full research.

  16. SEO Recap: Amazing Finds On Twitter This Week | Search Engine Journal says:

    [...] Now We Will Need To Pay To See Keyword Referrer Data? – Shaun [...]

  17. articulaciones says:

    Really bad news for small web-property owners. Apart from G protecting one of their biggest sources of income data from it’s competition, maybe there’s some pressure also from big players? I guess you’re going to have to spend at least 150k a year to play at the big dog’s table..

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