Last night, Google announced a major change to the way they refer search queries in Google Analytics.
You can read the major points of view here, but the basic gist is that you won’t be able to see what keyword that people typed in to find your site if they are signed into Google.
While everyone is getting all upset over this, I think it might be a good time to point out that this is a good thing…
Google highly personalizes the search engine results for people who are signed in. That’s a good thing for savvy marketers who properly utilize social media, because a strong social media presence and heavy sharing does wonders to personalized search.
The problem is that personalized search turns the regular results extremely messy. If there’s no separation between regular and personalized search, you could spend a lot of time trying to figure out why a super competitive keyword is sending you a whole lot of traffic when you’re not ranking well for it.
A very common SEO tactic is to look at the keywords sending you visitors and look at how you rank for those keywords. If you aren’t in the top three results, they are prime places to focus your SEO budget.
See where personalized search messing up your results could cause a whole lot of issues?
With results not separated into personalized and regular search, your numbers will be all out of whack and you could blow a whole lot of money optimizing for the wrong keywords.
I’d much prefer to have the personalized data being shown in Google Analytics, but separated from the regular results in the way Adwords visitors are tracked as “CPC” visitors. However, I’d prefer to not have the personalized data included in the regular results if it’s going to mess it up the way it currently does.
Good move Google, but please bring the data back as a separate referral source.