By Paul Morris
A dagger through the ♥ for web analytics! Quite a dramatic title & statement but it could be coming to a computer near you after today’s announcement from Google.
Essentially Google has announced that when users are logged in to Google.com they will be automatically sent to the https (SSL) version. As a result web analytics tools will no longer be able to track keyword data that users used to get to websites (natural traffic that is – you can still see Google adwords click/ sale data).
Whilst this is currently only for Google.com and for logged in users it is certainly possible that this will be rolled out worldwide and then to non logged in users.
Google here is supporting it’s “do no evil” motto and protecting personal data from rogue ISP’s and wi fi hackers as they can no longer see what you are searching for (although they can obviously see the ultimate site you click on if it isn’t secure and this also does NOT apply to PPC!). This clearly impacts other bodies that have a justification for collecting the data e.g. school and corporate network admins however Google is going to create a work around for these ‘bodies’.
Google then gives SEO’s a consoling pat on the back by saying you can still obtain the top 1000 search terms data in Google webmaster tools for the last 30 days however this is hardly a replacement for the information lost!
I’m sure Google is, in the most part, doing this to look after it’s users data, protect against wi fi hackers and cement its ‘guardian of data’ stance however could there be other motives?
Is it to incentivise people to create/ use a Google account?
Is it to stop ISP’s snooping on the data (to benefit retargeting ads for sites such as Chitika or Chango) or leaking CTR data?
Is it to stop landing page personalisation from SEO or just a sad by-product of the decision (due to this change you can no longer tailor the landing page based on the search query)?
Why is it fair to still give companies keyword data from PPC but not from SEO?
Is it to hit SEO’s so we find it more difficult to optimise sites/ justify the service to clients/ instigate more expenditure on PPC?
And then the big question for me is this the first step in a bigger roll out that affects all?
It’s still early days but all i know is if this is rolled out for all Google users then the tracking and optimisation potential from SEO will be severely hit.