Last week, Google made a switch to send all searches through Google SSL search.  Previously, only users signed into their Google account (gmail, youtube, etc.) had their searches passed through a secure search, and encrypted.  Now, all searches will be encrypted, and no keyword data will be shared.

Why does this matter?  Well, I’m sure you have noticed the large portion of traffic from “(not provided)” in your Google Analytics.  Get ready to notice that a lot more, as Google has cut off all keyword data.  This means that Google searches will not pass data through to your website, removing your ability to see what keywords are driving traffic to your website.  Well, other search engines like Yahoo and Bing will still populate Adwords with keyword data, but not from Google.

So it just became a whole lot harder to determine what your site’s major keywords driving traffic are, which keywords are converting to sales, as well as any other keyword-related research you may have enjoyed doing in the past.  I’ll let that sink in…  No more keyword data in Google Analytics. A sad day for keyword data junkies.

Now, luckily, Google is still displaying keyword data in Webmaster Tools for a 90 day history.  However, the data is notoriously inaccurate, especially the average position, but it does at least give you an idea of what search terms are driving people to your website.

In late August, Google also made a change to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, which allowed you to research keywords and gather data on the number of broad and exact searches were made for a particular keyword or set of keywords.  This was an excellent tool to use for keyword research for your niche [...]