Last week Google announced it will no longer report referring keyword query data to destination websites for searchers logged into Google. This same lack of reporting already exists today with search queries from encrypted.google.com, but it's rarely used as compared to Google's standard search engine. This new change is setting the stage to deny marketers accurate search data on the websites they manage.
Many people use Google's search engine while logged into their Gmail, Google+, Google Calendar, Google Voice, etc. If one of these individuals does a search for "United Way" and clicks on the United Way website the webmaster will have no way of knowing the individual arrived on their website that way. Instead, the analytics will show the visitor as referred by Google or as organic, but with no keyword phrase assigned in the analytics.
On the other hand, Google will report keyword search query data for its pay per click (PPC) customers regardless of whether or not someone is logged in. Adwords will not be effected by this change at all.
There are several good blog posts that outline the major reasons for the change. Some of the better ones are on SearchEngineLand, SEOBook and HubSpot. In a nutshell, the change moves logged in search queries from a non-encrypted environment to an SSL encrypted environment. In other words, the measure is supposed to protect people's privacy by default. Others point to reasons like crushing online advertisers which use Google's own data to compete against them. Whatever the reason, the change is coming soon.
That depends. . . If you are entrenched in the old pre-Panda SEO philosophy then yes. However, if you've embraced the search principles behind inbound and content marketing then no. The post-Panda marketer realizes that SEO is a marathon and not a sprint.
As long as there's a sustained commitment to producing large quantities of quality content on a regular basis SEO will take care of itself. A post-Panda marketer is not concerned that 500 people visited their website for keyword X last month, but rather concern themselves with trends over a longer period of time. As long as the graph is consistently upward mobile the post-Panda marketer can sleep at ease. Google's new change might report 20 plus percent less visitors for keyword X, but the trend will remain the same regardless of the number.
On the other hand, the pre-Panda marketer is obsessed with the number reported today and carefully sculpts every .01% of Google's algorithm with the hope of moving up one more spot. This same marketer forgoes a commitment to content marketing for SEO exclusively and focuses on the old techniques like farmed-out link building, eZine article link building and registering on hundreds of directories. Content marketing and SEO should not be mutually exclusive. For these marketers having a 20 plus percent decrease in keyword X traffic is tantamount to the sky falling.
Google makes changes and updates all of the time for many different reasons. As marketers, we need to accept this inevitability and remain content with our commitment to quality content. Quality content will always rise to the top over time and the only metric that truly matters is revenue minus expenses - not organic visits from keyword X.
Image: Search Engine People Blog