Why Google Is Encrypting Search Keyword Data and How to Work Around It

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Late last month, marketers saw a mild headache swell to a full-blown migraine when it was confirmed that Google was, indeed, taking steps toward encrypting all of its search activity. In other words, that already pesky “(not provided)” line in the Google Analytics report for organic search will soon obfuscate just about all of a marketer’s perspective on which keywords are driving organic search traffic to their sites.

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This news begs a few questions, including: Why is this happening? What does it mean for marketers? Are there any workarounds to track organic search traffic? Is Google violating its popular motto by being evil?

Read on for some answers.

Why is Google doing this?
The most cynical, and maybe the most pragmatic, reaction is to think that Google is doing this for money. “They’d surely want to increase ad sales,” says Reid Bandremer, SEO project manager at LunaMetrics. “They get 97 percent of their revenue that way. It’s impossible to not notice that they recently released the paid and organic report in AdWords. Plus, you can still get the same insights on keyword quality and keyword conversion data in AdWords. So if you’re a rational-minded Web marketer, even one focused on organic search, you have more incentive to, at the very least, spend more time in the AdWords interface.”

“Prima facie, it does appear that this change will drive marketers more toward SEM

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