News – Google, in an effort to secure better user privacy, is effectively turning the lights out on signed-in Google Account users in Google Analytics as well as other analytics packages. And, true to Google nature, this change doesn’t affect Paid Search, just organic.
The Double Standard
Google makes the double standard seem easy. Paid search (PPC) is also personalized to the user’s search history and IP address. But, true to Google’s nature, this gets to slide through the gates of “privacy”. I’ll let you connect the dots Aaron Wall-style. You don’t have to look too hard to see this move places PPC data on a pedestal; it’s unfiltered by privacy now and you get true conversion data from them.
What This Means to SEOs and Online Marketers
While I don’t have the percentage of users that query while signed in, it’s fairly safe to assume that a good chunk of users do travel from, say, Gmail to Google to query. And any other host of Google applications to Google. And when that happens, it’s light’s out on organic search data. You don’t get the referring keyword/keyword phrases used to find your site, your products, and your services. *BLINK*. Gone. As if it never happened.
Certainly, as the post mentions, you’ll get your visitation data, your segment data. However, here is the big piece: when it’s a signed in visit (organically), everything goes bye-bye, including conversion data. So if everyone who visits your site isn’t signed, then your data should remain unaffected by this. But, if even one person visits your site signed into their account, the keyword(s) and conversion(s) are not associated.
Harder to Craft Strategy Now?
I would say so. A lot of SEOs use the organic keyword data and conversion data to determine if a given strategy is working, and to determine if progress on that strategy is being achieved. It helps us establish a bottom-line assessment. Not only does it hurt search marketers, it hurts companies and businesses on every level (big and small). This change is going to make it harder to craft precision strategy on an organic level because the data is skewed and it could be harder to determine whether or not your strategic efforts were successful.
It doesn’t put us back to the Stone Age, so let’s be real about that, but it puts a pretty big crimp in data-backed strategy.
Moreover, those who used analytics just to surmise if people/consumers and how people/consumers found them for something other than BRAND terms, just got a punch in the face [read Mom and Pop shops who can’t afford online marketing services and help]. The web might be a key component to survival for them, and taking away accurate data in the name of faux-privacy is a pretty big deal.
Where to Go from Here?
Like Panda, we are all going to have to see how this shakes out. We will have to see how the data is affected by this change. It doesn’t appear to have been implemented yet, testing out being signed in to my account. But, when it does hit, everyone is going to have to take a deep breath, step back, and watch it for a couple days.