On Friday, September 6th, the Washington Post published “Google encrypts data amid backlash against NSA spying.” This breaking story is significant for a number of reasons. On its surface the ramifications seem to dwell in politics, security and technology. But by connecting the dots, it’s not hard to see how this could affect marketers—more specifically SEO practitioners.
Google’s “not provided” policy has frustrated countless SEOs since it started limiting keyword search query information in October of 2011 in an attempt to make its technology more secure. The impact was felt immediately, with many webmasters seeing 20 percent or more of their keywords driving traffic as unknown. Google claimed it would only impact less than 10 percent of queries. Today, it’s common to see 50 percent or more “not provided.”
Excerpts from the Washington Post
“Google is racing to encrypt the torrents of information that flow among its data centers around the world in a bid to thwart snooping by the NSA and the intelligence agencies of foreign governments, company officials said Friday.”
“Officials did say that it will be what experts call ‘end-to-end,’ meaning that both the servers in the data centers and the information on the fiber-optic lines connecting them will be encrypted using “very strong” technology. The project is expected to be completed soon, months ahead of the original schedule.”
If “not provided” keywords are due to encryption, it’s possible that end-to-end might mean the death of tracking any keyword performance in organic search. How might this impact the search engine optimization industry? How will agencies be able to take credit for their work?
This revelation poses more questions than gives answers. We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I hope I’m wrong because the reverberations of 100 percent “not provided” keywords would rock the marketing world.
Image credit: ElectronicFrontierFoundation