So you’ve most likely heard the news, or seen the alarming change in your Google Analytics data. Specifically, the organic search keyword data. This recent development is currently making waves in the Search industry, causing SEOs and web marketers to feel lost and well, angry.

What’s happening

In October 2011, Google changed the way it gathers data to protect personalized search. When a user is signed in to any Google product (Gmail, Youtube, or any Google Account), his search activities are conducted over SSL, or what we call secure search.

Many of us probably didn’t realize that the death of the Keyword Tool was an indication of things to come. Seems like Google was preparing us for an even more tragic death. As someone who uses Keyword Tool every single day, it took me a while to get over the death of (what felt like) an old friend.

And now, not only are we deprived of access to data we used to easily get off Keyword Tool—exact match, global and local monthly search data, device targeting, “closely related” search term filter, etc—we are also deprived of access to our own websites’ keyword data.

On September 23, a discussion on Threadwatch erupted with confirmations that Google Analytics has rolled out (not provided) up at an alarming rate overnight.

ClickConsult put up a website specifically to track these changes, and at the time of this writing, (not provided) is up at 76%

I think it should be very troubling and concerning if you’re a web user as well, because marketers don’t use this data to do evil things or invade people’s privacy. Marketers use this data to make the web a better place. The agreement that marketers have always had—that website creators have always had—with search engines, since their inception was, “sure, we’ll let you crawl our sites, you provide us with the keyword data so that we can improve the Internet together. I think this is Google abusing their monopolistic position in the United States. Unfortunately, I don’t really see a way out of it. I don’t think marketers can make a strong enough case politically or to consumer groups to get this removed.

Admittedly, there was once a time when SEO was a game of numbers. Time and time again SEOs abused the organic search, automating content, harvesting links, and manipulating rankings. And while many SEOs are still promising keyword rankings and high PR/DA links to date, I’d like to think we know better now.

Rand hit the nail hard in the head when he said that some of us do want to make the web a better place, and search a better experience. Ideally, search engines and marketers should come together in a mutual give-and-take relationship to accomplish this.

Pre-(not provided) era

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