I’d like to preface this blog post by saying that I’m usually the first to poke fun at SEOs who blog about the “search impact” of every little thing that Google does, whether it’s changing a font, repositioning items slightly in the SERP, or whatever the case may be. So in order for me to get riled up over something they do, it has to be huge. And this recent update to Google Analytics is nothing short of huge.
To quote this Google Blog Post:
Under the clearly cop-out guise of protecting user privacy, Google is going to start not reporting on organic keywords that logged-in users search. Isn’t that the whole selling point of Google Analytics? If not, it’s definitely a major one- the ability to see how users reach your site and how you can better position yourself in the space to garner more clickthroughs.
Visual Approximation of Google Engineers
I especially take issue with the last line I quoted above: Google says that this will only affect a minority of organic traffic. B-U-L-L. Think about it for a second. Who’s most likely to use SSL? Or to put it even more broadly, who’s most likely to be logged into their Google accounts when searching? First on the list are net savvy people who work in the cloud and rely on Google and Google Apps services (including companies who run on Apps). Think about the repercussions of a tech content site not being able to see how admins or webmasters are reaching their resources. You also have people on local networks who are most likely to use SSL- probably the majority of college students on a shared network. That is definitely a key demo. And maybe this one slipped past people’s radar, but in order to do anything with an Android phone, you need to be logged into your Google account! So every single Android user will have their keywords stripped as well. Is Google trying to make us hate their mobile OS and its users?
So what’s an SEO to do? Not much to do, really. We can storm Mountain View with our pitchforks, but Google is stubborn, especially when it comes to PR- and soundbyte-friendly topics such as “user privacy”. Let’s face it- Google’s plan is to have more people use their services and to be logged in indefinitely (take the ubiquitous “+You” bar, for example). Given enough time, Google will have everyone logged in whenever they search, and then they’ll also control all of that query data.
Talk about having your cake and eating it too.