For those in the world of web marketing, at least for those concerned with how Google affects that field, the month of October has presented challenges to the way we find information. Google “went dark” on providing those who own web sites with information on Google Analytics as to which search terms people are using when searching to find their sites, so web marketers must find new ways to get this information for clients.
This move is, at least in part, a response to the domestic and international scandal following the revelation that the NSA is spying on people’s email and other Internet transactions. Google has now encrypted its searches so that this type of casual surveillance is more difficult. However, one side effect of this type of encryption is that those who could formerly analyze web behavior for marketing purposes are no longer able to do so as easily and must find new ways to access this information.
Google’s Motives in Changing Its Algorithms
The new algorithm has made some waves in the web analytics community due to the fact that the search data Google is hiding is what is known as “organic” and not the paid searches. What this means is that you are perfectly free to look all you want at the results of paid advertising searches, just not what people search for free. Putting pressure on the web analytics world may have a ripple effects of more paid advertising sold, a move that has some questioning the motives behind the algorithm change.
Google has hastened to assure everyone that the giant company is not attempting to dance on the grave of organic web search analytics. In fact, claims Google, it has offered an alternative–the Webmaster Tools product. Expert web analysts claim that this is not exactly the same thing, however. Webmaster Tools compares to Google Analytics only in the way it operates, not in the search data it provides, because WT offers only aggregated data sampling. That means that the information gained is not as accurate for smaller searches, only for large datasets.
The upshot of all this is that web analysts and those who deal with organic search marketing must find some other method than brand recognition to determine why people are visiting their websites. This will present some challenges to those who are trying to help small and large businesses successfully navigate the world of web analytics.