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Sally Ormond

The Death of Keyword Data

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Google has been playing again according to a recent post on HubSpot's Inbound Marketing blog.

It is to encrypt all keyword searches except for click on ads.

What does that mean?

Basically, marketers won't be able to get keyword data for searches made by people who aren't signed in to Google.

Apparently, this move is to give "extra protection" to searchers, but considering the exception for ads, the more cynical would say it's an attempt to get more people using Google AdWords.

The guys at Hubspot go on to say:
"You may recall that back in October 2011, Google (citing the reason of privacy), announced it would start encrypting search results for logged-in Google users (including any Google-owned product like YouTube, Google+, Gmail, etc.). This meant that marketers were no longer able to identify which keywords a person who was logged into searched for before they arrived at your website — even if they were using a web or marketing analytics platform like HubSpot. And without these keyword insights, marketers would have a much tougher time knowing which keywords to target to achieve greater visibility in search. No bueno.

"While Google initially said this would impact less than 10% of all searches conducted, we quickly noticed that percentage rise. In November 2011, we analyzed the keywords of HubSpot’s customers to find that more than 11% of organic search traffic was being affected, and by January of this year, we’d found that for the HubSpot website specifically, about 55% of the organic search we got each month was encrypted (and we'd seen that percentage steadily rising by about 4 percentage points each month). Things appeared to be getting more serious.”
Eek, not good.

So is there any way marketers can still measure and use search data?

The HubSpot guys say:
"It is still possible to tell how much traffic your website is getting from organic search. Although you might not know the exact keywords, you can still correlate the work you do to optimize your site and create content to increases or decreases in organic search.

"Other search engines like Bing and Yahoo continue to pass along keyword data. According to comScore, at present, has about 67% of search market share, Bing has 18%, and Yahoo has 11%. Although this will not provide the full picture, analytics tools like HubSpot can continue to show keywords for the 33% of searches that come from search engines like Bing, Yahoo, AOL,, etc. This data will give marketers at least some indication of which keywords are the most useful.

"If you use Google AdWords for pay-per-click marketing, connect your company's AdWords account to your Google Analytics account and use that data for keyword research.

"Rank will continue to play a role in helping measure the results of search engine optimization and content creation."
You can read their full post here.


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About the Author:
Sally Ormond is a UK based freelance copywriter (and SEO Copywriting specialist) who works with businesses of all sizes and industries to create eye-catching, persuasive copy. But her writing doesn't stop there - also a self-confessed Twitter addict (@sallyormond) and blogger, she offers a wide range of useful articles about copywriting, marketing and social media in business on her blog, Freelance Copywriter's Blog.
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