Google No Longer Passing Keyword Referral Data for All Users
Wow, I knew this day was coming at some point, but I really didn’t expect that this change would happen this soon. Google no longer is passing keyword referral data through to websites. Google just made a huge change: if you search at Google, it appears that all searches (even from http://www.google.com/) are now secure, https searches. For all users. Even those who are not logged in.
What does this mean? Website owners will no longer receive keyword referral data from Google (organic search). We will not know what someone searched for in order to find our website. Website owners will no longer be able to target certain keywords because we will not know what someone searched for and then converted.
According to Not Provided Count, the “not provided” count is estimated at going up to 100 percent in December 2013. However, since this change, I suspect that Google “not provided” keyword data is going to be 100 percent within a few days, not weeks.
Here is how Google is doing this.
When you go to Google.com (and you are NOT logged in), you will notice the redirect to https. This means that your search is now secure. Meaning that they’re stripping out keyword data when you search.
When you perform the search, the search results page is STILL https. However, when you click on a search result, the referrer that is passed is now “not provided” and the actual referring URL looks exactly like this in the site’s log file (this was a search for my billhartzer.net site on Google.com that was https):
That URL above is actually NOT https. So, even though Google shows that the search result page IS https, the actual referring URL is now a “not provided” referrer (in which the keyword is removed or encrypted).
In my opinion, this is a huge philosophical change that Google has made, and they literally just turned the Search Engine Optimization industry on its head (and shook really, really hard).