4 Reasons Not to Give a Damn About Google’s New Keyword Data Policy

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From SEOmoz

On October 18th, Google announced a dramatic change to their privacy policy. In an effort to provide “security” to signed-in users, Google will, by default, route them them to the SSL version of the site. This means that when users conduct a search query while logged into a Google service, their organic search query information will remain hidden from analytics. You will merely be able to see that the traffic came through Google’s organic search. Not surprisingly, even if users are signed into Google, you will still be able to track their keyword information if they clicked through to your site via a paid ad.

The announcement has sent many members of the web analytics community into chicken little mode. But is the sky really falling? SEOs like Ian Lurie of Portent seem to think so. He declared outright war with Google and threatened black hat retaliation. While there is no way that this shift in privacy policy is good news for SEOs, it seems possible that portents of disaster might be exaggerated. Here are a few reasons why:

90% Keyword Visibility is Still Damn Good

Google has said that they expect this policy change to affect less than 10% of your search data. It’s unclear yet whether this projection is accurate. Results are sure to vary based on industry and location. That being said, if your keyword visibility is anything near 90%, that is still pretty awesome (especially considering that Google Analytics is a free tool). Even adjusting for various industries where more users are likely to be logged into a Google service, a far smaller data sample would be enough to influence marketing strategies.

We feel that brands are more than likely to have access to a big enough sample size of data to make actionable decisions in regards to your SEO budget and content creation efforts. SEO consultants should assure their clients that there will still be enough keyword visibility to provide valuable insight. We don’t see search strategists going the way of the milkman anytime soon.

Consider Bing and Yahoo

Bing and Yahoo search might make up less than 10% of your organic search traffic, but it doesn’t mean that search data from these platforms isn’t valuable. DemandResults noticed long ago that leads from Bing’s paid search yield higher value overall than leads from Google.

You Will Still Gain 100% Keyword Insight from SEM Data…

…And that’s likely the motivating factor behind Google’s sudden interest in its users’ privacy. Google is clearly trying to edge out competing ad services by getting more brands to funnel resources into Adwords. That being said, SEM data is still a great way to gain insight into the keywords that drive revenue.

You Will Still Be Able to Attribute Leads to Organic Search

Even if you lose some insight into the specific keywords that refer leads, you will still be able to denote which leads came through organic channels. This is useful because SEOs can continue to justify their existence by proving the revenue that is generated through organic search. You can still compare organic to paid search data in your CRM.

A New Metric to Track

All in all, this change to Google’s privacy policy shouldn’t have a catastrophic effect on your business’ ROI. That being said, since we’re evidence-based marketers, we highly recommend that you track lost keyword data as a metric going forward. To track the percentage of lost keyword data simply divide the number of “not provided” referrals by your total number of referrals through organic search. Track this metric over time to see the exact percentage of data you’re losing.


About Jesse Davis

Jesse Davis is a content marketing copywriter at DemandResults. He graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in history. In his free time, he blogs, writes fiction, plays guitar and spends far too much time on social media sites.

One Response to “4 Reasons Not to Give a Damn About Google’s New Keyword Data Policy”

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