On October 18, 2011, Google announced they will no longer pass keyword query data through its referrer string for logged in users. This means that instead of showing organic keyword data in Google Analytics, visits from users logged into Google will show as “not provided.” At the time, Google said they expected this to effect less than 10% of all search queries. With the rise of Google+ and Gmail and Android this creates a lot of people on-line who are logged into Google services.
An increasing trend has been appearing as browsers have started supporting DO NOT TRACK functionality. With the recent announcement of Firefox 14 encrypting all Google searches by default how will this impact on a search marketers ability to make decisions based on data.
Well firstly, you would have seen an increased number of Keyword: (not provided) in your reporting. One assumes that the remaining keyword data is proportionally representative of your market. However with missing keyword search data on the rise it is a worry to the data driven web marketer that they have less information at their disposal.
Yes, this is a very big deal, and there is a tremendous loss in digital intelligence and our ability to understand visitor intent (keywords are an important clue in understanding why visitors have come to the Website). In response there was a backlash from the SEO community who felt persecuted and threatened – but officially this was only a side-effect of Google prioritizing the privacy of its own visitors, and possibly preventing third parties from eavesdropping on search patterns for unfair advantage.