So lets see. Google launches analytics and gets many (most companies) to hand over critical business data for free that would not in a million years have been given out to the largest supplier of traffic/sales for most companies unless it was at gunpoint. They also own one of the biggest ad networks to help fill in where analytics may not provide them with a complete view.
As a result Google knows more about (the online portion) of each individual business than the business owners probably do as well as the entire market in which said business operates.
Then Google takes away one of the best data sources for businesses to determine where their traffic and sales are coming from.
So now Google knows more about your business than you do and your insight into your business (as far as search traffic) is severely limited moving forward, though maybe a little less so if you hookup even more closely with this same company that claims to not be evil.
And now they've got you running around trying to get "bad links" removed that may actually be good in the sense that they send you business and/or leads. They may have other businesses taking up your time to remove links that you have to their sites as well.
Isn't there something seriously wrong with this picture? If nothing else, it should be apparent that there is no such thing as "free" and the more complacent businesses are about all this the more knowledge and control they will continue to lose over their businesses.
Make no mistake, you can still do keyword research, though this is now slightly more difficult (though not impossible) as well. What you can't do is easily determine which keywords are providing visits to which pages, and which are converting.
They can spin it as a privacy issue all they want. But make no mistake, it's all about eliminating those who are using what Google thinks of as their proprietary data to make money (think Hitwise and others like it) as well as minimizing the effects of SEOs on their SERPs. It's also done to drive more revenues to meet higher profitability goals and to maintain their stock price.
This change will likely put companies like Hitwise out of business as their search volume estimates and information about what types of keywords are driving traffic to particular sites are based on sampling all of the Internet traffic passing through various ISPs for which they likely pay dearly. They sample some fraction of a percent of all Internet traffic by watching all of the requests passing through routers at ISPs like Time Warner, Comcast, etc. When they see a request for SiteX with a referrer of Google, they interrogate the referrer URL to pick out the keyword phrases that are driving traffic to SiteX. They then extrapolate their search volumes from their small samples out to 100% to "estimate" search traffic being driven to those sites for those keyword phrases.
With all referrers for organic Google searches resulting in a click-thru now being HTTPS, there will be no data for companies like Hitwise to extract. They will still be able to access Bing and Yahoo! information for as long as it is in the clear, but lets face it... that data with an already small sample size once extrapolated out is going to be VERY inaccurate. And search results at Bing/Yahoo! are much different from those at Google so this doesn't really help those webmasters optimizing for Google (which is probably 95+% of all those optimizing at all).
Also, if this were about privacy, Google would have figured out a way to have all searches performed securely and still show the keyword data in Google Analytics. They are allowing you to see some portion of it in WMT going forward (top 2000 keyword phrases per day for last rolling 90 days... eventually 1 year).... and if you set up an AdWords account then you can flow that keyword data into AdWords for reporting and maintain it there indefinitedly. Why then could they not flow it directly into Analytics? Because they want you using AdWords to perform keyword conversion testing.
Same goes for the recent move to replace the AdWords Keyword Tool with the totally crappy Keyword Planner and eliminating the external version of the Keyword Tool. This again was done IMO to make it virtually unusable for SEOs and to drive additional eyes to AdWords. Getting people to create an AdWords account in order to see any keyword data (even if it is via the crappy Keyword Planner) is half the battle to getting them to use AdWords.
Keyword Planner is so tightly integrated w/ AdWords that an SEO can hardly use it. The old Keyword Tool was much easier for both SEOs and AdWords customers to use. Why would they get rid of the checkbox to "Show only closely related keyword phrases"? Because they want AdWords users to generate less optimized campaigns and ad groups so they burn through budgets fast... spend more money to make the same number of sales they could have if they had access to "good" data.
IMO it's all about their bottom line and has absolutely nothing to do with privacy. Privacy is how they are "spinning" it.
It seems like "relevancy" as a goal of Google has been eroding for quite some time as "revenue" becomes the only goal. When the Adwords platform started with broad, phrase and exact with keyword data available from AdWords and organic advertisers had the tools to laser focused campaigns and hone their sites in on the most relevant keywords.
Every step along the way seems an attempt to make it harder for advertisers to be as relevant and targeted as possible so G gets a bugger chunk of revenue per sale.
They've made brilliant moves all along the way to get to this point.
|They've made brilliant moves all along the way to get to this point. |
And there already 5 steps ahead of what you see, and what you think you know.
|They will still be able to access Bing and Yahoo! information for as long as it is in the clear, but lets face it... that data with an already small sample size once extrapolated out is going to be VERY inaccurate. |
There you go. Better than nothing. This reminds me of the old Overture days when that tool went dark. SEO's will find a way, at least the smart ones will. We always do.
One thing I know, Google hates SEOs. I had a G engineer tell me that off the record one time. Puts everything in perspective.
On another note, the old adage applies here: diversify, diversify, diversify. Build the brand and the rest will come. That's the best advice I can give anyone with an online business.
Seems like I may be one of the few but who cares about G taking away the usefulness of this feature.
Make a website, design it for your perceived audience and forget about endlessly tweaking it to try and gain short term max revenue by targeting specific keywords.
In the long run that's a strategy for losers who are endlessly chasing a very short term gain.
Playing the long game does work with a minimum of planning and effort. The joy from ignoring G's paranoic twists and turns is soooo rewarding. Don't let G and their tools define how you go into the future.
It's 2 years since I suggested a way for Google to avoid some of the privacy issues in this thread:
You could go a little further to get rid of some of the issues raised (so, for example, if you worry that query strings are going to be used immediately to feed third party advertising that you don't know where data is going to, you could change the encoding every X hours/days and give access to the decoding info after a set number of hours/days have passed).
There are thousands of highly intelligent people at Google, I'm sure they could come up with workable answers if they want to.
Why can't we at least be trusted with anonymised data delivered through a method which is not real-time?
I'm a bit disappointed with the lack of mention in this thread of pushing back. It's time. We're there.
Google is only a habit. It's that simple. All each one of us has to do is make a very concentrated effort to convince 7 acquaintances to try an alternative search engine for 40 days. That how long it takes to break a habit for most people. Couple that with 6 degrees of separation and before you know what's happening it will come back around to you with someone suggesting it to you.
There's no other way to knock them off the mountain. But, what I'm suggesting can make a difference with a sustained effort. Otherwise...
|Anyone who is using google products, shouldn't come here and cry. |
|All each one of us has to do is make a very concentrated effort to convince 7 acquaintances to try an alternative search engine for 40 days. |
"Google's making it harder to influence their search results, so will you try another search engine for 30 days?" doesn't sound like a very compelling pitch.
|Make a website, design it for your perceived audience and forget about endlessly tweaking it to try and gain short term max revenue by targeting specific keywords. |
It isn't only about revenue. It's about the audience.
If logs tell me that significant numbers of people arrive at a page expecting an answer to a particular question which the page doesn't answer, I need to know that. Especially when that same search engine may be changing the page title to make it look as if it does answer the question.
What I choose to do with the knowledge will depend on the page and the question. Sometimes it's a change in wording so you're not accidentally using a synonym for something unrelated. Sometimes it's a full-blown "Oh, hey, I know the answer to that. If I'd known people were interested, I would have said something about it." And sometimes it's "Why the ### would they think I know something about that? If they don't look at the snippet before clicking it isn't my problem."
But who's better qualified to make this decision than the site developer?
|I'm a bit disappointed with the lack of mention in this thread of pushing back. |
Posts that critical of Google and stray off topic are generally deleted or pushed over to [webmasterworld.com...] When economic factors influence a for profit company that has an extremely wide reach, how any change benefits Google financially should be explored as part of the conversation. If this type of discussion is excluded, so is a major piece of the puzzle.
Mod's note: turbocharged - There's certainly lots of criticism about Google throughout the forum, and as long as it's on topic and doesn't get into excessive editorializing (aka, off-topic rants), we're OK with it. In this case, the thread is about the economic factors and aspects of the algorithm... in particular about Google's shutting off referrer data to webmasters, while retaining it for AdWords customers.
Most of the comments here, mine included, are extremely critical about the ways that Google is benefitting itself financially. ZydoSEO did an extremely good job of pulling together many of the issues involved.
So, on this thread, reasonable discussion on the topic of referrer data and keyword information is fine... and that certainly extends into the area of related conflicting business interests.
|I'm a bit disappointed with the lack of mention in this thread of pushing back. |
Getting into specifics of pushing back, though, is something explicitly forbidden by the WebmasterWorld Terms of Service [webmasterworld.com] (#26)...
|Claims of action, flames, and calls to action against any company or person will be removed. |
This has nothing to do with the actual content of the petition - if it was supporting hotlinking, it would receive the same treatment. But this is a part of the ToS that is adhered to strictly... and calls to action aren't permitted anywhere on WebmasterWorld.
For the record I personally agree with Rand Fishkin on this one. It "probably" an attempt by Google to force those who don't use adwords to use it.
You can get a subset of real time data from adwords to help you re-target your organic efforts. Google has now found a way to monetize all those SEO's that were doing this for free on their systems.
Google's bottom line will go up and so will their share price. win umm.... win.
This is a classic move that is used to gain power (and economic dominance). You remove information in the name of privacy. It is cue that Google has taken from many many governments. It usually comes in the form of removing rights (or restricting) in the name of security. It also works very well.
|It "probably" an attempt by Google to force those who don't use adwords to use it. |
The big get bigger and the small get smaller.
Brett predicted this over a decade ago: [webmasterworld.com...]
|On the tech end, the above switch would mean that referral strings from search engines would be a thing of the past. No more keyword work, no more knowing which kw's people were using to find your site, no more checking your rankings. The net effect would be the end of seo. |
The above switch would not be without merit or precedent. Both AOL and Overture routinely encode urls and session strings. By moving to POSTED data, they would eliminate some of the need for that.
I think that the SEO community is strong enough to move the undercurrents of the Web. We can push the usage of Search Engines that pass the data!
can we drop the "it's to increase advertising" conspiracy talk? How does it increase advertising?
If I buy ads, it still won't tell me how many people are clicking my natural ads or what keywords they're using. It won't give me back natural search conversion data.
All it will tell me is what keywords people are using for my ads. that's different.
WMT will still tell me my top keywords, and where I rank, and what ones are driving the most traffic.
Are the conspiracy theorists actually suggesting that people will shift away from SEO and toward paid simply to get keyword data? I don't see that happening.
Ummm It DOES increase advertising.
First, those who already use AdWords will have a harder time creating and optimizing any new ad groups as the Keyword Planner is a VERY dumbed down version of the old Keyword Tool which was actually VERY useful. They took away (for everyone) the ability to find "closely related keyword phrases" so the tool "suggests" much less optimized ad groups. Less optimized ad groups means AdWords advertisers will burn through budgets faster, and will spend more to get less conversions.
Second, it will cause more SEOs and webmasters who previously used their Google Analytics to determine which keyword phrases had the best conversion rates so that they could optimize their sites better for those phrases in organic search to begin buying ads and tracking conversion by keywords for those paid ads in order to understand which keyword phrases drive the most conversions and/or highest conversion rates.
For example, I have niche affiliate sites where 100% of my traffic is organic or referral (NO paid advertising). So I will have zero insight going forward into which keyword phrases are driving conversions and which are not. My only option to get this type of data now is paid search (there is not enough search volume for Bing/Yahoo! organic to even begin to give a decent estimate).
The total absense of data for organic search traffic and the abundance of data for paid search traffic will naturally shift some percentage of efforts (even for those that want to succeed in organic) over to utilizing paid search for testing. If you can't see that... well...
WMT is not going to give you the ability to tie conversion data to a particular keyword phrase. Also WMT is not going to give you the ability to see things like shifts in keywords driving traffic over large periods of time (which I use all the time when helping new clients determine where their traffic has all gone). WMT is a much less user friendly interface when you need to drill down on certain information regarding kewyords. I could go on.
I have set up the feed from WMT to Google Analytics for Search Queries.
But GA still shows only the last 3 months of WMT data. As there is already a feed and since GA can keep the historic data for years, why doesn't Google allow for this WMT feed to remain in GA historically, so that with the time I can do year on year comparisons etc. This has nothing to do with privacy any more.
Watch this space - there will be GA version that will have keyword info, but it will require subscription...
Welcome to WebmasterWorld RyanJones
I doubt it'll shift people away from SEO at all. It just makes it tougher to determine the keyword referrals without relying on Google's own system.
That thread reminded me of what I said back then.
|Perhaps the SEs will offer this as an in-house service (you subscribe to their stats for a fee). |
|But GA still shows only the last 3 months of WMT data. As there is already a feed and since GA can keep the historic data for years, why doesn't Google allow for this WMT feed to remain in GA historically, so that with the time I can do year on year comparisons etc. This has nothing to do with privacy any more. |
Actually they've said they're going to expand that to a year. Dunno when, though.
I am mildly curious to know if the premium Google Analytics ($150k a year, yo) provides organic keyword data, but I don't actually know anyone who uses it.
And no, I don't see people buying more advertising to get keyword info. I see them buying more scraper tool services to get ranking info, and using them with their landing page information to extrapolate. It won't be near as accurate, but it's better than nothing.
|So I will have zero insight going forward into which keyword phrases are driving conversions |
This is the biggest problem with losing keyword data right here and I haven't seen many people discuss it. You can still find out which keywords get your site visits, and even which page, if with more difficulty. Ranking tools are still out there, so that's covered, too. What will be significantly more difficult to track is conversion.
Now, I have a pretty good idea of what kinds of keywords typically convert well for my niche, because of experience (and access to the keyword data). But if I make a new type of page, I won't be able to track keyword-level conversion. Or any person who makes a new site in a niche or a new niche.
I can still see that a particular organic landing page isn't converting and make a decent guess that the chosen keyword isn't working, but taking away this data makes it more difficult to know for sure.
EDIT: Possibly relevant to all of this, Google is holding its Analytics Summit next week, and the keynote is going to be livestreamed. No idea whether or not they'll discuss the not provided changes, though.
I am using raw server logs analysed by local software to aid me in my site administration. For many years I have on principle refrained from using Google products. (It is a privacy issue: I do not want Google to know more about me and my site than it already knows...)
Now that the search keywords are no longer available I have reluctantly been contemplating signing up to Google Webmaster Tools, mainly in order to get the search queries information. I know there is also other useful data available in WMT.
What are the drawbacks and risks, if any, in case I sign up? Too much information that must be supplied to Google on sign up? Or am I just suffering Google paranoia? Under no circumstances will I be using Google Analytics, but as I have understood it WMT can be employed as a stand alone product.
Could some experienced one please shed some light?
Thanks for the welcome, I've been here for a while, lurking quietly in the shadows.
Netmeg, GA premium doesn't offer it either. I don't see the search engines offering a paid get your data back service. even then, the real value isn't the exact number of keywords, it's tying it to conversion data.
I know we're all over-reacting now, but I don't think we'll be worse off. We can still tie search entry pages to conversions, and we know pretty well which major keywords each page ranks for. For most people, their pages will have similar themed keywords that they rank for.
If your keywords on a page are that vastly different, then I propose there are much more severe problems that can be solved before analyzing conversion.
The WMT data is all information Google already found by crawling your site. Signing up to WMT just gives you access to it.
|Too much information that must be supplied to Google on sign up? |
Concretely, you are telling g### (or any other search engine with a wmt function, like Bing or Yandex) that this site has a webmaster who is actively interested in its welfare. That's the only information you're providing. Periodically they will ask for your cell phone number, but so far it has been possible to ignore this.
If you have multiple sites and you put them all on the same wmt account, the search engine now knows that these sites are associated with the same person. This MIGHT in turn affect the way they assess links between sites with the same owner. I don't think there is solid information on this point. All I know first-hand is that they don't flat-out ignore same-owner links (as in, not even mention their existence).
Well this sure makes things more difficult, but at the same not much has changed. Google still has the same user base, making the same searches, and someone is still going to be ranking and getting that traffic. You may not have the tools you did yesterday, but neither does anyone else. The playing field is still level.
I'm far more concerned by the encroachment of universal search results crowding out the organic listings on the SERP than I am about this.
Keywords are important, but I changed focus from keywords to page-level metrics and brand development long ago, and it pays dividends.
Still, I am no fan of losing data that is helpful in decision making.
|Keywords are important, but I changed focus from keywords to page-level metrics and brand development long ago, and it pays dividends. |
Ditto. If you improve your metrics and brand, the search traffic tends to follow that anyway.
I can see how it's going to hurt conversion tracking, however. I'm sorry for those of you who used it that way.
Like Lucy24, I used keyphrase analysis to better understand who was finding my site, how they were liking it, and how I might make it more likable for them. But I'll still be able to do that a good bit with info from other engines and social media.
Except Facebook, of course... and that makes me wonder. Is Google doing this not because of their dislike of SEOs or to push everyone into Adsense (they know that's not going to happen), but because their competitors could access a lot of this info via companies like Hitwise? I really think Facebook is the single scariest monster in Google's world, and it's entirely possible this is more about hogging something from FB et al than about us.
PS - over the past 2 years I've converted a number of people to other engines, not because it benefits me but because they were frustrated with the Google SERPs and discovered the other engines were simply doing it better.
I'm not seeing any keyword data in my WMT after September 23rd and I have an AdWords account tied to the same email address. Is this just normal data lag?
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