For those that were not already acutely aware, when Google introduced personal search last October, they also encrypted all search terms when concurrently logged into any of their services (Gmail being the obvious one that most people leave logged on, with Google+ the fastest growing).
So – search engine optimizers were dealt a blow because you could no longer see what keywords were working for this segment of people visiting your site, apparently originally estimated by a Google engineer to be under 10% of Google Searches.
But what is the end-game here? 4 years ago, “my Google” was the same as “your Google”. I could tell my mother-in-law to type Cobb Salad Recipe into Google and select the fourth result to get my fav. Not so now – my results may be different because someone I know recommends a different recipe.
So… as Google pursues their goal of improving personalized search for absolutely everybody, keyword optimization techniques will becomes increasingly complex and results will be evermore difficult to measure.
But – never fear – Google has an alternative for you: just buy ads from them. They will pass on search keywords of anyone clicking on a google ad, even if they are logged in and encrypted. Not to diminish the improvement in privacy, but that is a clever way to also redirect some Organic SEO funds into Adword spending.
For alternative solutions, consider these articles on the subject:
Avinash Kaushik’s 5 steps to smarter analysis of “(not provided)” results :
Continue to use the keyword ranking tools available from Google Webmaster Tools:
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