Last week Google made enemies with the SEO community. Not in the normal Panda update way; this time it is an update, revealed as a ‘security concern’, that directly favours Adwords over ‘free’ SEO.
This is very different to Google’s last big analytics update aimed at making money. Earlier this year they introduced Google Analytics Premium that adds to the features available to free account users. They even added more features for free users at the same time – this is an example of taking away from free accounts to give to paid Adwords users.
Google have attempted to calm SEO’s down by claiming that afftected data will be ‘single figure percentages’ – leading to many cries of ‘SEO’s will lose 10% of keyword data!’ Consulting our analytics since Google changed we have had 124 encrypted keyword searches – appearing as (not provided) -
This accounts for only 1.76% of our keyword hits from Google.
Losing 1-2% of keyword results shouldn’t have that much effect on SEO’s – however this figure is likely to grow. The problem is that as Google are touting this as a security issue then Google users are more likely to ensure they’re logged in when searching in the effort of securing online privacy.
This isn’t the case! Keyword searches are only hidden from free Analytics accounts – not from Adwords account holders. This completely changes the dynamic of this update – Google aren’t keeping data private, they’re effectively selling it to advertisers.
Google are clearly benefiting from this update – it improves the effects of their Adwords packages because only Adwords account holders can use this data for targeting keywords advertising. It puts digital marketers in a situation where they receive a gentle reminder when checking Analytics that they’ll only access all their data if they pay Google.
As said – a 1.76% loss of data is hardly critical for an SEO and isn’t enough to change a marketing strategy/ buy Adwords. However this is likely to change.
Firstly – internet users are increasingly concerned with online privacy and so security conscientious Googlers will start to make sure they’re logged in before searching – it will then become natural to always be logged in when surfing the net.
Secondly – by making Google+ public, Google have vastly increased the number of users who search while logged in. Before Google+ the only people logged in were GMail and Google Docs users for example – opening this up to a growing social network and things change. The fact that anyone logged into G+ won’t have their search terms shared with Google Analytics accounts is ironic considering the platform is so focused on open sharing.
If more people are using secure search as they sign up for Google+ then the impact on keyword research for SEO’s is worrying – losing a big chunk of keyword data means that you can’t target keywords. This also means you lose a whole demographic – avid Google users! If you are a company who sell a product aimed at techy people (we offer Google Analytics Training and SEO Training for example) then you aren’t going to see the keyword searches for your target customer – not good.
At the moment it’s easy to be angry at Google – a company that provides so much for free – for taking something away from free accounts and giving it to paid accounts (We’re unsure if Premium Analytics accounts have access to the info but it’s likely that anyone paying $150,000 for Analytics has an Adwords account anyway). Especially as Google have announced the update as a ‘security’ issue.
Online security is important – but as we’ve said this isn’t about security. If it was then either Google would completely encrypt or remove search data altogether. Another approach they could have taken has been suggested by Search Engine Land and goes into the reasons that encrypted searches normally wouldn’t show up for an unencrypted search. The brilliant people at Search Engine Land have simplified normal referrer rules down to the following-
So, Google had the opportunity to make all searches secure (not just for Google account holders), forcing websites to make themselves secure in order to see referrer data. This would really tighten up the web and ensure better protection for everyone. Instead they just made up new rules -
What a lovely way to thank advertisers for giving Google money!
We try not to moan about Google offering paid services as that’s how they make money, it’s just a shame that in this instance they have actively taken something away that they previously offered before. Not only that but they did it under the cover of ‘security’ when normally they are big advocates of sharing.
- Google Analytics Update – Premium and Real Time
- Keyword Tools & Traffic Estimators: Eliminating SEO & PPC Guesswork
- Google Analytics Redesign – Website Performance by Numbers
- Google Analytics Training – 5 Top Goals to track
- Google Upsets Twitter (Again) With Search Plus Your World