Back in 2011 Google began their move to secured search results, which provided an increase in security, but prevented marketers from seeing which search terms users were typing in to find their site. This was quite a problem for many marketers who rely on this information for a wide range of different strategic activities. In addition, it brought a significant amount of criticizes to Google for continuing to provide the information to their paid advertisers, but not to those who get the organic traffic.
Google has said, however, that they are no reexamining the issue and looking for a better solution. They did not elaborate on what exactly that might mean, but many people believe that at some point in the future marketers will regain access to the referrer data. Other less optimistic individuals think Google may start hiding the referrer data from paid advertisers, but I find that very difficult to believe.
Paid advertisers will likely demand access to this information, since it is often used to determine where to invest their ad dollars. If Google stops providing it, there are many other great ad networks out there who would be happy to provide the service.
With this in mind, we’ll have to wait for more information from Google. In my experience, however, once Google starts talking about something like this, it isn’t too long before they take action. This will most likely mean that the search term being typed in by users will be provided in Webmaster tools and other analytic software in the near future. This will, of course, be a huge relief to marketers around the world.
It is possible that Google might do something else as well, since they do seem to enjoy surprising us. What other options remains open to speculation, but from what I’m seeing, the most likely move will be to somehow include the referrer in the secured data. For now, let’s all hope that Google makes the right choice.