As many SEO analysts and professionals predicted, Google has announced that it will be blocking access to paid search keyword data in order to keep users’ searches secure. In an announcement published by Google’s Paul Feng on the company blog he announced the following:
‘Today we are extending our efforts to keep search secure by removing the query from the refer on ad clicks originating from SSL searches on Google.com.’ Posted by Paul Feng, Product Management Director, Google AdWords on 9th April 2014.
So what does this mean?
Basically this means that Google has started to encrypt paid search keyword referral data. This means that those utilising PPC ads can no longer see what terms people have used to arrive on their landing pages when they have clicked on an Adwords ad. Instead of seeing the strings of keywords, the reports will now show ‘not provided’ or ‘unavailable.’
Google has made this move in a bid to make search engine users’ searchers “safer” and more private. Remember at the end of the day, Google is there to meet the needs and requirements of its users. Google say that their users want secure searches, therefore secure searches is what they will inevitably get.
How will it affect paid search campaigns?
Despite Google blocking access to paid search keyword data, they claim that advertisers will continue to have access to useful data, which they can use to optimise and improve their PPC campaigns and landing pages. Detailed information can be found in the AdWords search terms report and the Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries report.
It’s also important to remember that this change will not impact the Google Adwords API; this will continue to work as it was before.
Whilst there have been some complaints about Google’s latest move, it is not as if advertisers will be flying completely blind. In fact, those who do not use third party management tools are unlikely to even notice any kind of difference. Google would not be naïve enough to eliminate keyword data all together as they know the price and usage of their ads would significantly drop. If this were to happen advertisers would simply lose confidence in the keywords they bid on due to having little knowledge of where their site was gaining traffic.
Third party management tools for PPC campaigns
Google have stated that they will cease from supplying third party management tool providers with paid search query data. Whereas some third party management tools rely on this information to map keywords and facilitate improved performance, others make greater use of AdWords data and therefore will find the impact of Google’s latest move minimal. In fact many analysts are speculating the change is partially fuelled by Google’s desire for increased use of their own tools and related technology.
Before you panic about the blocked access to paid search keyword data, it is important to remember that whilst search query data is related to keyword data, the two are actually separate entities. Therefore if you use keyword data for bidding, reporting, tracking and campaign management, you will be unaffected by Google’s decision to no longer provide search query data to its paid search API partners.