Keywords are still available for AdWords users through the Keyword Planner as well as for Webmasters through the Google Webmaster Tools, but the quality of the keywords returned are not comparable with those returned by Google Analytics. SEO practitioners will surely perfect workarounds to tide over the situation. But what's not discussed much is that the move could end up benefiting internet analytics companies like Hitwise, Comscore, Compete, Quantcast, etc.
The competitive analysis packages by these companies already cost an arm and a length. Now it looks like Google has indirectly made it more lucrative for them to charge for keywords too.
ISPs STILL PACK A PUNCH
Many people think that only search engines have access to the keywords used by searchers on the Web. But consumer connectivity to the Web is provided by the internet service providers (ISPs), and although they're now well past their heydays, the ISPs still pack a punch when it comes to accessing user search data.
Hitwise Global research head Bill Tancer has revealed how the process works through his book Click. He says the company collects search data on 10 million-plus users in the US alone. The company collects it from both ISPs as well as opt-in panels. The break-up is 7.5 million-plus from multiple ISPs across the country, and the remaining from opt-in panels. Opt-in panels are groups of internet users who have agreed to be monitored, and whose demographic details are made available to analytics companies, all for a price.
ISP and opt-in data about usage are updated every day. Search-term data is updated on a weekly basis. Tancer claims data privacy is protected by anonymizing and aggregating data, and by scrubbing search data terms off personally identifiable information. After Edward Snowden’s revelations, all such assurances have to be viewed skeptically.
So with internet analytics companies having access to search data in such a comprehensive manner, surely they have the wherewithal to step in and provide commercial solutions to any dearth of keyword data on account of Google's shift in policy?
Let's wait and see as to who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of Google's move. Will it be rival search engines like Bing? Or will it be these internet analytics companies?