Google starts hiding SEO keywords for privacy, but AdWords unaffected?

I can't believe it. Google just announced a new 'feature' for their search results pages. If a user is logged in he will be redirected to the secure (SSL) version of their search engine. The main reason (so they claim) is the user's privacy... when a user does a search and navigates to a site, that site will only be able to see it's a visitor from Google Organic...yes, without the keyword.

Why does this suck?

  • If Google really had a clear focus on a user's privacy they also wouldn't send the keyword along with an AdWords click (as Yoast tweets). Right now only half of the results are privacy-protected and the other (paid) half not.

  • Google claims it will not affect a lot of users, that could be right on average. But for some sites a lot of their target groups are logged in to their Google Analytics, Google Reader, Youtube, Gmail, etc. All those visitors will also be logged in on the search results, and that could mean serious loss of information about the used keywords.

What are the alternatives? The data provided by the Google Webmaster Tools is way off (as Roy tweets), and I agree. I guess we have to rely more on the trends we see based on our actions. But as most SEO's know: diving deep into the data is a must to get a good grip on improvement. It's not all about trends. Also some behavioral targeting tools won't work a 100% anymore if you want to target specific keyword groups.

There's one advantage: if you search secure through a WiFi connection it's harder for bad persons to be able to retrieve what you where searching for.

What do you think about these changes? Positive, negative? I have a feeling that this change is for other reasons than they claim.

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  • http://www.optimisationbeacon.com/ Rob Kingston

    Andre, nice find. What reason do you think they're actually hiding keywords for?

    I'm thinking this is a bit of a publicity ploy to soften people's feelings towards Google's privacy issues and to drive signups for Google accounts.

    • http://andrescholten.net André

      That could be the fact if they blocked the keywords from AdWords also. I think it has something to do with the competition from other software vendors.

  • http://www.2organize.com Wouter Hosman

    I totally agree on the fact that Google probably isn't doing this just for privacy reasons. The fact that AdWords is untouched backs this argument up.

    Probably, as you are saying, they aren't happy with the fact that 3rd parties are using the data. I think, Google is secretly going in the wrong direction with their, and "our" business. Not cool!