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Google and Privatizing Keyword Data: What It Means to You

Posted On: November 22, 2013

This is kind of a big subject with a lot of different parameters, but here at Ring Ring Marketing, one of our jobs is to distill these complicated subjects down to the bottom line. So here’s what you basically need to know:

Previously, businesses and Internet marketing firms (like us!) have for the most part been able to identify what keywords people were using to find sites in Google searches. Google allowed most of this search information to be public.

This was a huge boon for marketing efforts, because you could easily determine what were the most effective keywords and keyword phrases/long-tail keywords in Google searches and include them in your sites and marketing efforts.

Well… so much for that.

This information, generally called search traffic referrer data, started to become less available about two years ago, when Google started encrypting searches by people logged in to their Google profiles.

But now Google’s taken all the information off the grid. It’s encrypting all searches regardless of whether users are logged in. So it’s no longer possible to get free keyword data from Google, making it much tougher for all businesses and marketers to easily hone in the best keywords to use.

Take note of the word “free” in “free keyword data,” because that’s relevant here. Businesses and marketers can still get keyword data, but it’s no longer gratis.

Anyone who pays for Google AdWords can still see which keywords resulted in traffic, adding obvious incentive for businesses to use this service.

Why did Google make this change? Well, first off, it’s Google, and as we’ve mentioned many times before, Google loves to change stuff as often as possible.

But Google claims the main reason for this change was to protect the privacy of people using Google Search. The company has been extremely critical of late of the National Security Agency spying on users’ Google searches.

It’s certainly possible this was a key aspect of the decision, but Google obviously knows it’s sure to increase AdWords revenue by removing free access to search traffic referrer data.

Don’t Panic!

Despite the change, you still have some free information — just not quite so specific information — you can use to determine how much traffic your website is getting from Google searches. You might not know the exact keywords, but whenever you optimize/tweak your site, you can compare those changes to increases or decrease in search traffic through Google Analytics.

Also, you can still get free search data from major search engines such as Bing and Yahoo. Granted, Google presently has about two-thirds of the search market share, so it’s far and away the biggest kid on the block, but you can’t afford to discount Bing or Yahoo.

Bing and Yahoo respectively have about 18 and 11 percent of search market share. That’s statistically strong enough that the keywords used in searches on those sites should correlate fairly closely to those used on Google.

While the news that Google was shutting down public access to search data has been understandably upsetting to a number of businesses and marketing firms, it’s honestly not all bad. This change should help cut down on websites gaming the system by using lots of search-heavy keywords without otherwise including strong, relevant, original content.

If your website has lots of this type of content, it’s still going to do very well in organic search, and Ring Ring Marketing representatives are happy to show you how to ensure that. We’ll also stay on top of every avenue for determining which types of keywords pay dividends in organic search and paid advertising.

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