Why Google is Hiding Key Information in the Keyword Planner Tool

Adrianna Mieras

Senior SEO Strategist

By now, you’ve probably heard plenty about Google’s new Keyword Planner Tool, which replaced the Keyword Tool last fall. Besides giving the name a refresh, the tool has another surprise in store: hiding keywords from marketers. Ouch. Basically what the Keyword Planner does is encrypt all searches and replaces the keywords with “not provided” in the analytics report.

Search terms were encrypted for signed-in users back in 2011, but the new keyword tool expands this protection to all users. Google did make an official announcement about the switch to a new keyword tool, but they quietly addressed the fact that search queries would be encrypted going forward. This change may have felt abrupt, but the truth is that “not provided” keywords have been steadily increasing, with Firefox, Safari and Chrome getting in on the action.

Why is Google hiding this information in the first place?

The first reason, as many suspect, is ad revenue. Although the Keyword Planner Tool hides keywords, it does not hide them for Google AdWords customers. Customers who pay for AdWords have the option to view and save keyword data. Interesting. It looks like Google may have found yet another creative way to increase new Google advertisers with this system.

Why Google has decided to encrypt all searches may never be known for certain, but some expert say not to be disappointed by the change. It is actually a good thing for digital marketing in general because marketers can hone in on business results rather than keywords. This is where the focus should be anyway, so it pushes the bar for better content. And, we all know that Google rewards sites with original, engaging content.

If you don’t have keywords to direct your content, then where will you find the motivation? The best approach is meet with your customer service team and ask them which types of questions they hear from customers the most. This will give you direction as to what your customers would like to know about your product or service, and this conversationalist tone will complement Google Hummingbird as well.

Over time, you’ll become a pro at creating content around trending topics that meet your customers’ needs. You never know, being freed from the limitations of keywords may allow you to be more creative than you originally thought possible.          

About the Author: Adrianna Mieras

Adrianna is an SEO Strategist at SEMGeeks. She holds a BA in Communication Studies with a concentration in Digital Communication, Information and Media from Rutgers University. She takes pride in her work and thrives off of "position one" success. Born and raised at the Jersey Shore, Adrianna spends her free time riding her bike along the beach and swimming in the ocean. She has a passion for people, places and new experiences. It is rare to find her without a smile on her face.

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