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Farewell to Google Analytics Keyword Data

On 23rd September 2013, Google confirmed changes were coming in relation to the keyword data it provides in Google Analytics. They are currently working on encrypting all keyword search data, meaning that your ‘Not provided’ keywords will soon reach 100%, as no such data will be provided in Google Analytics.


Content marketers and SEO’s are already familiar with the ever increasing number of ‘not provided’ keywords that Google Analytics was already reporting. Indeed, this has been the case since late 2011 when Google first started to encrypt the searches made by users logged in to Google.

Whilst this has had an impact, resulting in a rise in the number of ‘not provided’ keywords reported, this still accounted for a relatively small proportion of keyword searches, and a good amount of keyword search data was still available in Google Analytics.

Keyword searches will now be encrypted for all users

That has now changed however and Google now plan to encrypt searches for all users regardless of whether they are logged in and conducting searches via a secure SSL connection or not. Google claim to be protecting the privacy of their users in doing this, and whilst the change hasn’t happened yet, it certainly sounds like it is imminent.

Why has Google decided to encrypt keyword search data?

As to why Google has made this decision, the reasons are currently down to pure speculation.  The prevailing thinking is that the decision might have been made in an effort to block agencies such as the NSA. Earlier this year, Google was accused of cooperating with in order to provide them with direct access to its search data, something Google strongly denied.

Another reason why Google might have done this is to force businesses into using Google AdWords. By paying for clicks on certain keywords, they in turn will have access to the keyword data that is set to be removed from Google Analytics.

Is There A Way Around This?

According to Search Engine Land, keyword data will still be available through Google Webmaster Tools, but I do speculate as to how long this will remain the case and believe it to be more than feasible that keyword data will also be removed from Webmaster Tools at some point.

The information available through Google AdWords whilst not perfect, is excellent when you consider the fact it is free. Perhaps this was an inevitable step, taking away access to more data forces businesses to go down the paid routes of either PPC and Google Analytics Premium.

Whilst reducing free features in many ways is understandable, it is worth considering the fact that not all businesses have the budgets available to compete effectively in paid search and all but the biggest global brands will be able to meet the absurdly high annual fee for Google Analytics Premium (which if you are wondering costs £90,000).


Google Analytics Premium

Post-PRISM, Google Confirms Quietly Moving To Make All Searches Secure, Except For Ad Clicks

Google to Encrypt ALL Keyword Searches: Say Goodbye to Keyword Data

Join The Conversation

  • Kim Deppe's picture
    Sep 27 Posted 2 years ago Kim Deppe

    I agree that this will impact smaller businesses that do not use Adwords, but I would argue that they are probably not using this feature anyway. Unless they are using someone like me to do their analytics for them, I believe it is unlikely to create a problem. I do think Google will introduce another route to this data later on, probably one that will have a cost associated with it. Associating it with G+ may help them with expanding that strategy, too, as it has limited impact so far. Great post, thanks for provoking the thoughts!

  • ubersocialmedia's picture
    Sep 26 Posted 2 years ago ubersocialmedia

    Thanks for your comment Barbara.

    I see this move as purely profit motivated, the simple fact is that the cost of acquiring clicks that convert through AdWords can often be prohibitively expensive for businesses who don't have vast budgets.

    I don't see forcing more businesses down a paid advertising route as a good thing, I think it will essentially start to narrow peoples choice as it will mean increased visibility for only the biggest and most cash rich businesses or for those operating in a niche.

    It's a bit like what has happened over the past 20 years on the UK high street where big, cash rich businesses forced independent retailers out - this move could be the start of us seeing something similar happen in the online world as Google rewards paying advertisers with ever greater visibility and better resources so that smaller businesses who rely more on organic SEO for their visibility, will end up being pushed down the SERPs.

  • bbmcKinney's picture
    Sep 25 Posted 2 years ago bbmcKinney

    Efforts like these may seem altruistic, but they’re a good investment because they’ll help people use the internet more, which means more Google use, which means more advertising revenue.

  • Sep 25 Posted 2 years ago Rini Das


    Thanks for posting this news.

    I think they are really moving towards developing analytics and search on G+ and hashtags.

    See this latest GoogleUpdate from Zaheed Sabur of Google: A feature they will have for and for next 48 hours.



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