What Encrypted Keyword Data Means for Online Marketing, SEO


The bomb has been dropped. Google is encrypting 100% of all keyword searches.

It seems, Google is no longer happier with just keeping private the searches made by users who are signed in. That’s old cat, until this!

Apparently this means that when you search to look for sites to visit – whether signed in or not with Google account – site owners are now handicapped to see what search terms you used to click and made you enter their site.

Search Engine Watch and Hubspot are among the firsts to break the news about Google’s turning a cold stare toward the idea of giving away valuable keyword data. And what exactly these mean, especially for web marketing? What future awaits marketers? And is it really over for search engine marketing?


Where it All Began?

The rise of “not provided” data draws momentum around nearly two years ago when Google announced it was embarking on massive changes to secure search. It was the beginning of an era that obliterated passing on of keyword data to site owners, all because Google switched all searches over to encrypted searches using HTTPs.

By encrypting keyword searches, Google makes it impossible to track users by their keyword searches because they no longer pass the keyword data through to websites they visited. This ends the ability to categorize or segment users by keywords within their web analytics tools.

And before examining further the impact of Google’s switch toward encrypting all search activity, let’s realize this latest dance step was confirmed by Google. Search Engine Land has the scoop below:


“We added SSL encryption for our signed-in search users in 2011, as well as searches from the Chrome omnibox earlier this year. We’re now working to bring this extra protection to more users who are not signed in.”


When initially launched in May 2010, Google had its encrypted search on a separate URL. The following year, Google intensified the move by redirecting all US users who were signed into their Google accounts to the encrypted version at an HTTPS address of Google.com. The crucial step finally gave birth to the “(not provided)” row in the keywords data that you can find in Google Analytics, and other similar web traffic graders.

Google’s side is plausible. It’s hard not to get convinced why it’s doubling security and safety measures for its users, especially when taken in light of the NSA web spying controversies. The move, more or less, allay fears that the search giant is allegedly giving away search data access to the National Security Agency. Google vehemently denied the accusations.

Another speculation was chimed in after the recent Google release. Troops of marketers and advertisers are reportedly getting the axe. A move seen as too drastic a measure against businesses which derive bulk of their revenues through providing intelligent analytics and keyword targeting to customers.

Encrypting keywords by Google are seen spelling more doom than boom for online marketing.

Now that Google has done the inevitable yet feared move, marketers are bracing for darker days ahead. The solution must come quick on how to make turn around strategies or dwindle down financially. With the restriction to keyword data for searchers performed by users who aren’t even signed in, marketer lose insights.

Without keyword insights, the higher the difficulty levels for marketers to figure out which keywords to target. How are users finding their websites? How to make content strategies to work? All these combined, the price gets higher to achieve greater search engine visibility.

Could this spell an era when Google is no longer the good samaritan that it used to be is yet to be seen.


The Un-Evil Google Does Want To Monetize Now?

Search advertising is Google’s bread and butter. We have to keep in mind that everything Google does come with a price. From buying promising and flourishing startups to perfecting its search algorithms, albeit offered initially without a charge, are strategies to keep it profitable in the long-term. And the new era suggests Google badly need to focus on increasing its revenue stream.

So we are warning you to forget any attempt now to prevent Google from embarking on this. That won’t stop it! Gradually restricting free keyword data is a well-designed tactic by Google as a deliberate move to increase its search monopoly in a number of ways.

Social Media Today tossed around some interesting insights about the recent decision that includes increasing revenue streams via compelling marketers and advertisers to increase their PPC budgets in exchange for keyword data.

Increased demand also means there will be higher PPC prices and lower click-through rates for you, just what Google intended in the first place.

It is also not remote that Google might soon offer subscription rates for marketers to access keyword data or specific data to your site. This might be what you’ll finally decide to spend your marketing budget for instead of PPC, after all.

Then Google might also soon offer Google consultancy services to make good use of those treasure trove of data. In the end, it’s all but win-win for Google, gaining a much wider berth in the search monopoly.


Now, What?

There is a natural tendency among marketers to seek information and market demographics. The richer the data mined by marketers, the easier and faster it often takes to formulate strategies and maximize resources and propel growth.

On the other side of it, it allows businesses new ways to conduct their own keyword research that is less dependent on Google’s tools. Such may include identifying which user persona your present or future customers belong to.

To be sure which steps to take, one option is to seek the advice or help of experts which can provide services to suit your requirements. Remember that the future is not only getting more competitive, it’s also not getting any easier.

For all that it’s worth, the news of Google encrypting all keyword data must pose a challenge that’s greater than ever in an era when every bit of data is regarded as gems. However, there is still some ways to determine metrics and use search data. Here are some that Hubspot recommends:


  1. Some analysts are suggesting correlating online marketing optimization tasks performed by your business and come up with content based on spikes or plummets in organic search. This may not provide you with those exact keywords, but this method is going to help.
  2. You can use other search engines like Bing (18% market share) and Yahoo (11% market share) to provide you with keyword data. The remaining percentage over Google’s 67% market share can at least provide some signs or hints about keywords that are most useful to your business.
  3. Wordstream’s suggestion is for businesses to use their existing Google AdWords by connecting to their Google Analytics account. They can obtain relevant data for keyword research along the way from this process.
  4. Don’t discount rank, which can come handy in determining results of search engine optimization and content creation.



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