• Joe

    Highly unlikely they will withheld keywords from paid. Much more likely that nothing will happen other than some improvements to WMT.

  • RyanMJones

    My guess: search terms get withheld from paid search too.

  • http://raventools.com Jon Henshaw

    “We’ve heard your cries of hypocrisy and have decided to make things right by taking away ALL THE THINGS! You’re welcome.”

  • http://lsminsurance.ca Syed Raza

    If its so important for Google to uphold user privacy and keep their user search data out of the hands of organic search marketers, it should be equally as important to force paid marketers into the dark too. In fact as a user, it seems creepier to know Google is withholding my search data only until someone is willing to pay for it.

  • http://www.potpiegirl.com Jennifer (PotPieGirl)

    quote: “After Google’s change, terms on unpaid or “organic” listings were
    withheld. The chief reason for this was that Google seemed to worry that
    sending a stream of terms in the clear could cause someone to
    “eavesdrop” on a string of searches someone was doing, which could build
    a revealing profile about them.”

    Ok, I got that – but here’s the thing: GOOGLE is STILL eavesdropping and building profiles – they simply aren’t sharing that info with us (organic content marketers) anymore. What’s worse, in my opinion, is that Google SELLS that information (via AdWords stats).

    My solution idea – Offer a report in Analytics that lets you download and see all the “not provided” terms in a bulk generic way.

    Offer it once a month or something – heck, charge for it if they need to. Just give me a long list of all those terms people used to find my content and how many times each phrase was used. I don’t need to know WHO used each search string or even WHEN they used it, just an overall report of the “not provided” terms and number of times used. THAT would be helpful.

  • RightTech

    If they stopped providing paid keywords, wouldn’t that mean you could no longer use Google Analytics to track conversions – you’d be forced into only using AdWords?

    Not sure how feasible this is, but seems like they might be able to tie Google Analytics directly to search results in a way that Analytics gets the keyword without the keyword itself passing over the net. This could let site owners track conversions for both paid and organic.

  • http://www.seoeffect.com/ Keesjan Deelstra

    My 5 cents go to option 5: “Paid Search Terms To Be Withheld”. OR the will extend WMT organic search kliks and integrate it more in Google analytics. ( the second tab data , visits to URLs to GA engagement factors like bounce, new, time and conversion)

    Since months Google is under pressure in the the EU in court about monopolising verticals http://blogs.ft.com/brusselsblog/2013/11/revised-google-settlement-leaked-document-stash/ http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/15/us-eu-google-idUSBREA0E0PF20140115?feedType=RSS&feedName=technologyNews , about abuse of power of Android, and the older privacy issues with streetview.

    So I think they want to make a gesture out of a business point of view, not out of any privacy concerns (again).

  • J_Boch

    My take is Google WILL discuss with-holding the information from the ad side, but then they won’t like the answer. Eventually some sort of compromise will be reached but much much later.

    Closer to months then weeks I’d say.

  • mstricker

    Another scenario: Google starts to charge for access to secure organic Query data, to be viewed in GWT or GA. Pricing tiers get worked out for Keyword depth and historical term. Ad side implements payment front end similar to setup of payments instituted on Product Display Ads.
    1) Google gets revenue stream for a formerly “hot commodity” that is sorely missed, has a ready market, and can be righteously revoked if abused.
    2) Cost may deter some Keyword cowboys.
    3) Secured Keyword data exposure is limited to verified GA or GWT accounts, limiting liability and pilfering.

  • http://www.CheesyCorporateLingo.com/ Patrick Reinhart

    Sounds like more robust reporting in WMT is on it’s way, which would be welcome.

  • DarrinJWard

    I’ll tell you exactly where this goes, right now, for free. Actually I think when you listen to it, it’s pretty obvious… He said their users want to be secure and privacy. Well I still get the IP address of every visitor that comes from Google *** alarm bells ***.

    So, what they will probably do is set up a massive proxy server that sits in between any click from a Google result and the destination site. They will pass on the keyword as before but the IP will be Google proxy system IP.

    This removes the keyword association from the user’s IP address, allows the users to be anonymous, gives us back our keywords, and allows Google to monitor everything POST-CLICK because it will all be done through their secure. Hello treasure trove of data on site statistics and usability, which can then be rolled back into the organic search algo.

  • http://www.jchweb.co.uk/ Jack Hutchinson

    The thought of losing paid click search terms should terrify any ppc advertiser! As much as I’d love to see organic search terms return, it would be a much bigger blow to lose the AdWords data

  • http://www.tampa-seo.com/ Steve Scott

    This is precisely the scenario I was expecting when Google first announced that they were going 100% Not Provided. I know I’d pay for it.

  • daveintheuk

    Oooh will Google take away, or will Google give. Could go either way. The suspense is killing me.

  • RyanMJones

    most major agencies that I’ve seen – don’t even look at the keywords or conversions captured by site side analytics programs. They set up conversion tracking in Adwords or DART and they only look at that. It’s sad, but I’d guess that most of the major spenders in paid search wouldn’t miss it. Many wouldn’t even notice.

  • Durant Imboden

    Unless someone higher up Google’s food chain really cares about the issue, what’s to keep the search and ad teams from sticking with the status quo? Just because they talk doesn’t mean they have to agree on a common policy.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/krzysztofkaczmarek Krzysztof Kaczmarek

    I’d rather say, that Google will look for a way to monetize this data and they will show the search queries for Google Analytics Premium users or something like that.

  • Martin Neuteboom

    When reading all this. Your scenario is indeed one of the first things that came up. GA premium/paid. And “hell yeah” that Im willing to pay for it… we’ll see…

  • lauralouise90

    This definitely doesn’t sound good for PPC – I get how Google could increase Not Provided for Paid in Analytics, but you couldn’t get rid of all the data in Adwords, advertisers wouldn’t know where there money was being spent… surely this would lead to many abandoning Adwords for Bing?

  • Arnan

    Probably another blackmail scheme to give Google more info about you making you jump through hoops to be “approved” to see those terms.

    Just like the “we have this cool url for your G+ profile but you can only get it if you give us your phone number” trick they’re currently pulling.

  • Steve Cameron

    Great post – just a couple of points….

    If search terms are to be made available anywhere (and WMT is somewhere) then why make us jump through hoops to see them – if they are available they are available – put them where it’s most useful for us…

    … and (and this is a little more complex…) Google’s success in paid search depends upon advertisers success. We are already seeing that many advertisers simply give up on paid search because it doesn’t work – not quite true, but see my recent post here – http://advent.es/adventblog/entry/53-why-adwords-biggest-advantage-is-also-their-biggest-disadvantage – for clarification – and the removal of search terms is going to make things worse. Oraganic search terms are a great resource for ad campaign builds – take them away and the advertiser will have to wait longer to get data from their paid results to be able to make a start on optimization – and, of course, they are paying as they go.

    A greater proportion will drop off along the way and tell more and more of their friends and business colleagues about how they “got burned by Google” – Is this really what Google want? Starting to look that way.

  • Roman M

    My guess as well – no search terms anymore directly to the sites, but in the relevant management tools (AdWords, GWMT) in a more improved manner (hopefully…)…but probably still in GA Premium

  • Jane Cragg

    I have to agree with the below, it is highly unlikely they will withhold paid keyword data… and even when stated above that users will still access this information through Adwords – what’s the point in removing from GA only? All businesses should have the two hooked in together so its not like they wont get the data one way or another. I am more interested in the ‘secure server’ option – as this could be feasible, and still tick the box around the ‘privacy element’ that was allegedly the catalyst for the removal of the data in the first place.

  • Mambo Man

    My guess-
    MSQ’s will be pulled from Analytics and we’ll be able to see sample data ; something along the lines of what they show in Adwords (keywords>details>view all).

    If that happens, I know my ad spend will decrease. And I manage accounts with > 100,000 adgroups. But what will it mean for Google across the board?

    I’d hope Google respects their advertisers and doesn’t take away the most important bits of info.

  • http://www.erikeric.com/ erikeric

    I hope you’re right, but this seems unrealistically optimistic

  • http://www.erikeric.com/ erikeric

    Except Bing’s “inventory” couldn’t possibly make up for the volume of traffic and conversions lost with removing AdWords. So while many advertisers might shift, this change wouldn’t prompt an equally large shift in consumer searches to Bing.

  • Scott Davis

    With Hummingbird and its behavior, I would expect to see Google reintroduce keywords in bucketed topics or keyword concepts in GA. It would provide the security to the user of not having their exact search string floating out there for anyone to misuse while at the same time allow Webmasters to once again infer the customer intent behind visits on a page level.

    The data in Webmaster Tools just isn’t as actionable as having the after click information we lost in GA with (Not Provided).

  • Scott Davis

    Similar to the concept I posted above. (not provided) is (not useful). lol.

  • Mike Gracen

    My cynical guess: Google will block all Adwords KW data as well except for GA premium clients, creating yet another cottage industry in the process as agencies flock to GA Premium and begin signing up clients to manage their analytics accounts and sell them KW reports as a ‘value add’.

  • RyanMJones

    Technically, that would fix the hypocrisy.

  • http://www.luicedesign.net Chris Johnson

    The issue is User Privacy and not more revenue. Google is under major pressure from the EU and FTC.

  • Anteela

    That would be fantastic! I sorely miss our pages and pages of keyword data. It would be a big boon to improving the user experience as well (yes, there are other ways of getting an idea of the keywords used, but it is no where near the same).

  • mstricker


  • mstricker

    Yes, Steve, and I suspect that Google knows you and I would pay for it, too!

  • Pat Grady

    If this is about security, they essentially tokenize paid clicks via gclid, why not do the same with organic (making folks use G Analytics if they want to decode the KW data, G could offer to share / deploy encryption schema with other Analytics providers to avoid that hypocrisy snag).

    If this is about privacy, they’re gonna nuke SEM kw data.

    If you think about everything consumers willingly tells Google, this isn’t about privacy imo, but security.

  • Jake

    Unfortunately, I think the current trajectory is less data, not more. I would be surprised if this ends any other way besides removing the data from AdWords. The only question is whether that would benefit their ultimate goal, which is increasing ad revenue. The idea that searchers are happy with SSL is laughable. The average user has no idea what that even means, nevermind what kind of data is or isn’t shared in Google Analytics. Out of sight, out of mind. It’s a farce to pretend otherwise.

  • Chris Gedge

    Google wont withhold paid keywords. It will risk upsetting too many publishers. Google doesn’t care about whining SEOs!

  • Chris Gedge

    Most major agencies are neglecting assisted conversions in Analytics then. A massively important tool.

  • http://www.adamtudor.com/ tudoradam

    WMT enhancement to add more data and visibility would be great. Their issue is perception, and rightly so, ‘pay us to see your keywords’ is pretty out of order, but that’s big G.

    They should really stop passing paid terms across if they are going down the privacy route. I don’t see how they can continue to pass these over and tout privacy as the reason, it’s absolute nonsense, just a revenue justifying exercise.

    SSL > SSL would also be an excellent move too, but I wouldn’t expect them to ever do that, way too forward thinking for G and not enough $ in it.

  • RightTech

    Exactly right. That’s what I was getting at my earlier comment – you can feed both paid and organic results a token in the keywords field using standard non-secure http. There is no privacy risk because it is a token not the actual keywords. Then Google Analytics can use that token within Google backend to determine the actual keywords and report all info as they did before going Not Provided.

    So – complete privacy for users from net snoopers, no requirement for slower, more expensive secure servers at most publishers, and you can use your existing Google Analytics. This promotes use of GA while allowing Google to be good to both users and publishers.

    And if Google wanted to be really good net citizens, they could make the token and keywords available via Webmaster Tools to site owners that don’t use Google Analytics, so they could import the data into other analytic systems.

  • http://www.jaankanellis.com incrediblehelp

    “Paid Search Terms To Be Withheld” no way they do this. It would kill revenue on AdWords. It is going to be all about paying for organic data soon in GA or GWT, just like “sort of” have too in AdWords

  • Michael Lyons

    Matt Cutts has since removed the tweet mentioned in this article

  • http://www.addthree.com/ Miles Rossow

    While true that it would upset publishers, I do not think that is the reason Google would not withhold paid search keyword data.

    The reason is because PPC ads are the lifeblood of their business, and that would greatly jeopardize the effectiveness of that side of the business.

  • Zachary Palmer

    And most (okay maybe not most but a lot) major agencies are doing it wrong.

  • http://smackdown.blogsblogsblogs.com/ mvandemar

    “Another solution would be that Google could restore search term data to publishers who run secure sites.”

    Wait a minute, Google doesn’t need to “pass” the data in the url in order to
    restore the keywords in Google Analytics. Yes, other systems of keyword
    tracking and log analyzers would still not have it, but Google knows
    exactly what each and every person who uses their search engine searches
    on and what they are clicking on as a result. It’s how the data gets in
    to Google Webmaster Tools in the first place. They could easily just
    populate Google Analytics with that data, no changes on the webmasters
    side at all. This whole thing about the “not provided” being about user
    privacy has been a red herring from the beginning.