Google conceals keyword source of traffic

Google conceals keyword source of traffic

Although we don’t usually get too “techy” here on the Wax blog, there are some changes from Google that may affect search results. Here Thomas Doane explains those changes and how they might affect your blog or site.  

In order for businesses to be competitive today, they need to have an online presence that spans everything from social media to marketing to search engine optimization (SEO). Knowing what strategies to use and how to use them effectively can mean the difference between a business thriving or failing.

Email marketing has proven to be a reliable, measurable strategy if used effectively and sites that connect users and businesses through the online coupon market have proven to be effective at driving sales for small companies. All forms of marketing, particularly on the Internet, rely on producing measurable results. If an advertiser can’t see exactly how their marketing initiatives are impacting their business, they won’t know how effective their campaigns are or whether they should drop a campaign or extend it. That’s why Google’s recent announcement that it will be encrypting search queries for users signed into their Google accounts is troubling to some observers. The search giant has cited user security as their main motivation for the change, but it will have serious impacts on SEO while Google’s own AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) service won’t be affected at all.

Users Will Have More Secure Results

The whole reason Google is doing any of this is for the security of its users. It’s possible that Google fears that someone will discover a way to trace potentially sensitive search information back to specific users or use the search engine’s lack of encryption to infect users’ machines or access features of their Google account. Also of note is that some countries censor Internet traffic, particularly on Google. If Google were to encrypt the search data for those countries, it may allow people in those countries to perform searches freely and protect them from possible punitive measures by their governments. For now only users signed into the Google accounts or those deliberately visiting are affected, but it’s likely that Google will roll out the encryption to more users as time goes on.

SEO Data Collection Will Be Hampered

Though only 1% of searches will allegedly be affected, the loss of data for SEO efforts could have a large impact. The overall methods of on-page SEO won’t be affected. Sites will still need to produce quality content, have a clear user interface and generally construct their site to appeal to users and their interests. Targeting specific keywords, however, will be hampered, especially as more and more people sign up for Google accounts and remain signed in. Because companies will no longer be able to see exactly what search phrases are bringing users to their site, their ability to determine which keywords to target and which SEO campaigns have the greatest return will be hampered. They will still be able to see the overall pictures and Google will still provide a list of the top 1000 search terms that bring users to their site, but further SEO efforts will be less accurate.

PPC Campaigns Won’t be Affected

Google won’t be providing specific keyword data to websites that show up in organic search listings, but it will continue providing the same data to users of Google’s own ad network, AdSense. Because Google provides this service for a fee, the company feels that its customers need to be able to access this data. If advertisers could no longer see specific results for their campaigns many of them would likely scale back their PPC efforts and focus elsewhere. Further, the ability to see exactly what keywords will produce their ads can help them refine their campaigns, enabling them to better target longtail keywords.


Some have lambasted Google’s decision to deny keyword data on organic results but provide that data for PPC saying that the search engine is encouraging companies to switch from paying for SEO campaigns to paying for AdSense ads. In the end, though, the use of PPC and SEO are necessary for any well-balanced Internet marketing initiative.