In the video below, you are going to see Rand Fishin of SEOMoz explaining exactly the change about how Google is serving keyword referral data from search results.

In my opinion, this is not a huge deal for niche marketers (according to G, it will affect only 10% of your traffic data); however, that is not why I’m blogging today. The reason for this post is because what G has chosen to do is an absolute bloody outrage!

By not serving this data for organic search, G says they are ‘protecting user privacy’.

Really? I thought that was what the https encrypted search option was already for?

If they are really being so altruistic, why then, do advertisers who are paying for Adwords still get this data? Yes, that is right…if you are generating traffic from organic keywords, you will no longer know which keywords are sending the traffic, however, if you are paying for traffic, then G will still show you which keywords are sending the traffic.

What a load of crap!!!

If this isn’t a shining example of G flexing their monopolistic muscles, then I don’t know what is.

Over the coming days, I suspect the backlash from this move is going to be intense, to say the least, and I would not be surprised to see G repeal their decision.

Failing that, I’d like to see the Justice Dept get involved and give them the Google slap that they so sorely deserve.

If you feel the same, write to your congressman, blog, tweet, facebook, or otherwise share your disgust with the world.


Your comments are always welcome,


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  • Galyna

    Hi Trent!
    I am glad you are raising this subject!

    I was thinking, should we make some kind of electronic petition website where people can come and leave their “signature”. Maybe this will get attention of Google when they’ll see how many people are not happy with them?!

    What do you think?

    It’s getting out of control with G. G is a monopolist in this market and it’s never good for business…

  • Albert

    Hey Trent I’m new to internet marketing and I have recently signed up for niche site mastery,how badly will I be affected by this is if I am looking for keywords? or is it only bad if you already have your website and just want to fine tune your data?

    • Trent Dyrsmid

      Its only bad if you are trying to determine which keywords are actually sending traffic to your site…and that said, according to G, it will only affect 10% of the traffic. The work around is to look at the data from Yahoo or Bing, as they are not following suit on this decision.

  • brian

    yeah, not good if you are a keyword or analytics software provider….kind of makes Google analytics a monopoly then.

    • Victor

      Brian, I dont think this gives any power to analytics… all analytics tools will still result in the same data because its the logged in or logged out searches that get categorized into public or non public data for your eyes and analysis.

      What this really does do in a nutshell is erect more walls to channel more users to use adwords.

      I suppose this could be good or bad for you, depends on how you want to approach it. To me as an adsense site creator and investor this can be a good thing – although the loss in data makes things more difficult it also weeds out competition.

      No different then the real estate market. More foreclosures just means more renters and higher rents.

      But we will see in due time just how drastic it can be. Real investors know how to win regardless.

      Cheers :)

  • Travis Ross

    Agreed, Trent. This is absolutely a slippery slope. If they get away with this, who knows what the future holds. I personally just went on twitter, searched for #analytics, and sent a link to SEOMoz’s most recent post/video to spread the word. I HIGHLY recommend people do the same (or use a different hashtag) to spread the word.

    Here’s the link to the SEOMoz post – twitter will auto shorten it so you can use some persuasive copy in your reply/message and not appear like a spammer.

    LET’S RISE UP AGAINST THE MACHINE!!! (yeah, I know that sounded silly, but it’s one of the few time I get to feel like Neo.)

  • Jay Walsh


    Yesterday I sent you an email regarding a notice I rec’d from Adweek on how Google was no longer requiring Adwords users to include keywords into their campaigns. All they had to do now was point the campaign at their page and Google would scrape the page for the “appropriate” keywords.

    My question (in retrospect, badly asked) was if this would have any affect on what you were doing (sic, with Adsense).

    When I saw that Adweek post, it threw a red flag. If Google is now scraping a landing page for keywords, how would that affect being able to determine what keywords are sending the traffic?

    What it looks like (and I’m by no means an expert on search) is that Google can’t (or won’t) provide you search terms because (with the way Adwords is now set up) you’d have to specify what the landing page was in relation to the keywords being searched.

    They can provide the information to paying Adwords customers because they’ll know which keywords from a specific page drove the traffic.

    Your post (rant) actually addresses exactly what I was alluding to in my email yesterday. What I should have asked was: What was Google up to when they changed the way keywords were handled in Adwords? And, How would that affect finding appropriate keywords for Adsense?

    Thanks for posting this. This was the missing puzzle piece.

    • Trent Dyrsmid

      Glad that I was able to provide you with the insight you were after :)

  • Jesse

    No, I don’t think this latest Google move passes the smell test – in fact it really stinks to high heaven. Had this applied to paid search as well, I might be more inclined to buy their argument about protecting user privacy. Hopefully, the outcry will be such that big “G” will need to reverse this decision shortly.

    • Trent Dyrsmid

      Lets hope.


    This is an inconvenience, but well within Googles rights to run its business as it sees fit. I don’t see how the Justice Dept are going to get upset about people having their privacy protected and I’m not aware of any other website that is obligated to provide referral data.

    If googs estimates are right, you’ll still have access to 90% of user data which is statistically valid.

    The interesting thing that a lot of people discussing this have overlooked is that only 10% of goog users are logged in users…..

    • Trent Dyrsmid

      Hey Ken,

      Where did you see that the percentage of logged in users was only 10%? That seems low…

    • Tom

      I may be a little thick-headed about this, but exactly what logged in users (searchers) are we talking about? I certainly never log into Google when I search. Are they talking about those people who may be logged in to their gMail accounts at the time they initiate a Google search?

      • Trent Dyrsmid

        Yes, that is what we are talking about.

  • Stan Young

    I can only join in the above chorus of disgust. Its the same old story Google are law unto their own and there’s very little that can be done about it. I will send a tweet about it to my 5,000 followers but not hopeful that that will make any difference. Thanks for broad casting the message.
    I guess if every one arched up Google might take note but I wouldnt want to hold my breath.

    • Trent Dyrsmid

      Thanks for doing your part, Stan :)

  • Jason

    Just a quick look into my analytics. From Tuesday through now: my #1 niche site had 975 visits through search, 19 were: (not provided), just under 2%. If it stayed at this percentage, I could live with that. However, I agree that this only the beginning as Google pushes more no-signed in folks to the https.

  • Tom

    It seems to be human nature to revolt a bit whenever giant companies change rules without asking us. I may not like every change that Google makes. But the fact remains that Google is as big as it is because it offers up the best search results available. It is as big as it is because its customers continue to use its services. It makes its own decisions and to suggest that we should ask the Justice Department (to readers outside the U.S., that would mean asking the federal government) to intervene is indeed to ask for something that is potentially much worse than Google’s unpopular decision.

    • Trent Dyrsmid

      My point in referring to the justice department was that it seem monopolistic to withhold keyword referral data for organic search (in the name of privacy), but NOT to do the same thing for paid search; the net result of which is that it is possible that this will allow G to leverage is SE dominance to extra extra revenue from customers in a way that is not easily duplicated by other less dominant SEs.

      • Tom

        Your point is well taken. But in a free market society the strongest, best managed companies have a way of winning – in almost any field. It’s the old survival of the fitness idea. Should Google be penalized because its management team did a better job than Yahoo! or Bing or whatever other SE we can think of? Regardless whether I like or dislike Google’s decisions, I find it a scary proposition to ask the government to intervene in a private business’s affairs just because a weaker company might not be able to duplicate its maneuvers. Let the smaller, weaker company takes whatever steps are necessary for it to better compete. That’s exactly what we, as internet (affiliate) marketers have to do. We have to wise up and do things that we may not have known existed yesterday in order to gain on our competition tomorrow. (On a side note, Trent, I really enjoy your podcasts, especially the way you gently force your interviewees to give up more info than they might have without your prodding.)

  • Ken

    Hi Trent,
    I made the assumption based on Googles statement that this will only effect 10% of searches.

    I wouldn’t imagine that logged in users would do a great deal more searching than anyone else to dramatically effect the statistics.


  • Kaz

    Hey Trent, thanks for posting this video – good explanation of what is occurring and agree with your sentiment. Very frustrating indeed.

    • Trent Dyrsmid

      Hopefully, we’ll see Google repeal the decision :)