Google has recently announced that it will begin encrypting all keyword referral data. Currently an SEO provider (such as ourselves) could find out which keywords led visitors to their clients’ websites. Now that Google is encrypting this information, this data will not be available from within Google Analytics.
Over the past two years, the percentage of search terms listed as “not provided” in Google Analytics and other statistical tools has increased. Google began holding back information it previously gave to publishers for free (“referrer data”) that let website owners or marketing agencies understand the exact terms (organic keywords) people used when they searched on Google and then clicked to visit websites.
So, what are the consequences of this change?
Once the rollout is complete, it will not be possible to view the exact keywords that are bringing traffic to a website. Google will not show any referral data in future, regardless of whether users are signed into Google or not.
SEO providers will soon need to:
- Shift from being purely keyword-focused to being more content-focused, measuring how content is resonating with website visitors rather than strictly on how keywords are performing.
- Utilise third-party tools to obtain the keyword data, rather than relying on Google Analytics.
These changes will not directly affect our processes or ability to perform SEO, though it will require some changes to our reporting methodologies since “top performing keywords” data will not necessarily be available much longer.
For our clients, there will really be no changes at all. Our processes remain the same and you might see a new section in your monthly report, but you’re otherwise unaffected.