Since Google began blocking keywords from web analytics tools, the SEO community has watched keenly to see how much data was being withheld and how the changes would impact their ability to perform their jobs.
Reports from the field show that the amount of data being blocked is serious—in the 20% to 50% range—and is much larger than the estimate of “single-digit percentages” that Google spokesperson Matt Cutts said would be blocked.
As Rand Fish reports in a detailed survey on the SEOmoz blog, the amount of blocked data rose above 10% in November and has risen into the 20%+ range on many sites, with blockages on a number sites as high as 50%.
Others also are reporting Google keyword blockages in the 20% to 30% to 50% range. Nick Stamoulis, for example, reports that he as seen keyword blockages “up as high as 40%!”
As Rachelle King writes, “If you’ve been reading about the numerous complaints on huge amounts of lost keyword knowledge based on Google’s new encrypted search for logged in users, you’re not the only one.”
The keywords being blocked are the referral data that led visitors to a site, and are valuable for optimizing an organization’s search engine strategy. The missing keywords, which are showing up in analytics tools as “not provided,” can be detrimental to an organization’s SEO and marketing efforts.
As Louis Camassa writes, “When working to increase your search engine visibility, it is critical to know the value of the keywords/phrases you are targeting….With Google’s new move to block this feedback, we are losing out on valuable information needed to make critical business decisions.”
In a blog post entitled “Google Creates a Keyword Black Hole Negatively Impacting SEO,” Mark Plumb writes, “As someone who creates Internet content, I believe hiding keyword search referral data from unpaid search results impairs my ability to deliver high quality content to my audience and my clients’ target markets.”
Plumb’s sentiments are echoed by many others, including Josh Braaten, who, in an open letter on the SEOmoz blog, chides Google for its actions and writes, “I want my data back.”