Some 87 percent of Google's organic traffic going to the Web's largest news sites is encrypted and showing up in reports as (not provided), according to data from Parse.ly. It's a stunning shutdown of keyword data via Google Analytics. Essentially, Google is no longer allowing webmasters to see what organic keyword searches are bringing users to their sites.
To dedicated SEO strategists, this has not been a surprise hack. In fact, Google started encrypting keyword data back in Oct. 2011, according to eConsultancy. In the image below, you can see that the top referring link at that time coming back to the firm was a (not provided).
Put another way, when users perform searches while logged into a Google service, Google blocks all data from the incoming organic keyword referrer. Various analytic tools showed that Google was blocking about half of this data throughout 2012 and into 2013, simply reporting it as (not provided). Search marketers were stymied with this change. Google claimed it was to protect user privacy, but others opined that it had more to do with elevating revenues for Google AdWords. After all, AdWords users still saw the keyword referrals, putting Google's motives under suspicion.
But now, Google has encrypted... Read more