Google to Encrypt ALL Keyword Searches: Say Goodbye to Keyword Data

SMB Best PracticesThis blog is courtesy of Pamela Vaughan’s Blog Post on  You can read the full post here.  However, we have pulled out bits and pieces that we feel are pertinent to our blog subscribers: many of whom are SMB’s engaging in Search Engine Optimization in order to attract new business.  Your websites are in many cases the main marketing and ordering tool you use to thrive, and with nearly 70% of the world’s search engine traffic coming in via Google Searches, a change as significant as this will surely impact your marketing strategy.  We recommend ensuring you are aware of these changes and the person/team that handles your website and SEO are aware:

“Warning: This isn’t one of those happy news updates that opens up new doors for your marketing — like Facebook announcing embedded posts. Nope — this is one that’s going to actually close some doors for you…  Search Engine Land reported that Google has made a change aimed at encrypting all search activity — except for clicks on ads.

When approached by Search Engine Land, Google reportedly confirmed the switch, saying the following:

“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.”

This means (you) won’t even be able to get keyword data for searches conducted by users who aren’t even signed in.

Google’s decision to encrypt keywords for all searches affects all web analytics tools, including Google Analytics. It is no longer going to be possible for any analytics system to identify what keywords visitors have searched for before they visited a website from Google is now only sharing this information with its advertisers.

Google’s stated reason for not providing keywords is privacy for its users.

Why, Google … Why?!

So Google says, the reason for the switch is to provide “extra protection” for searchers. Search Engine Land, however, suspects that Google may also be attempting to block NSA spying activity — since Google was accused of giving the National Security Agency access to its search data back in June (which it has strongly denied). We also can’t help but think that, because Google is encrypting search activity for everything but ad clicks, this is a move to get more people using Google AdWords.


That said, there are still ways to measure and use search data to drive your marketing.

  • 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. At present, has about 67% of search market share, Bing has 18% and Yahoo has 11% (comScore).
  • Rank will continue to play a role in helping measure the results of search engine optimization and content creation.



Learn more about the author Bob Martin

Google to Encrypt ALL Keyword Searches: Say Goodbye to Keyword Data