Google used to tell us, in Google Analytics, all the keywords people used to find our websites. We used that information to determine whether the web content we wrote was reaching the right people, to target our marketing efforts more effectively, and to get ideas for fresh content our visitors might find useful. That information has been dwindling for years. Some sites lost much of their organic keyword data years ago, and the amount of organic keyword data now provided is minimal — a sampling, and not a random one.
While our lab site, FreshPlans, continues to see more than half of the keywords used, the site you are currently visiting sees over 90% of visits as (not provided).
Google continued to show keyword data for paid search. While this only affected sites that use Adwords, a lot of people got up in arms over it, saying that this distinction showed that Google was unfair, insincere, or possibly trying to encourage use of Adwords.
Google has just announced that it will no longer be including the query (the words the individual typed into the search box) in the data it provides from ads. Has this been done in response to all those complaints or, as Google says, as part of their ongoing efforts to protect people’s privacy? Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether there is anything wrong with encouraging people to buy your product, we should probably be more concerned with the effects than with the motivation.
So how will this affect us?
- Those who use Adwords will still be able to see the performance of keywords they buy, as well as the Search Terms report, which shows the things people typed in when they performed the search that brought them to the website.
- Those who do not use Adwords will not be affected at all.
I’m going to make what may be an unpopular stand here and say that Google, the source of more useful free tools for education, business, healthcare, and the arts than any other company in history, has a right to limit the information they share with us through those free tools. They may even have a responsibility to limit some of that information. Given a little bit of real-world knowledge, it is definitely possible to connect a search with an individual. You might not want everyone to know about all the internet searches you perform, even if you’re not looking up instructions on how to make bombs.
You can still use your Google Webmaster Tools to identify the search terms for which Google is showing your website.
Here are some of the keywords in our lab site’s Acquisition> Keywords > Organic report:
Here are some of the keywords in the Acquisition> SEO> Queries> Clicks report:
We can get a pretty good idea between these two reports of the keywords our visitors use to find us through organic search.
Our lab site has no paid search to show you and we don’t share clients’ sensitive data, but I can assure you that it is just as easy to find the information for paid search. That won’t change with Google’s decision to protect paid keyword data.