Welcome to the world of “Not Provided”.

In a move that has rocked the digital marketing world, Google has announced that it will encrypt all of its search results. While that may sound wonderful for privacy advocates, it torpedoes the ability of marketers and website owners to see which keywords are bringing in visitors.

Two of the top sites in our industry – Hubspot and SearchEngineLand.com – ¬†have looked at the issue. Basically, instead of Google Analytics showing the search keyword(s) that visitors used to get to your website, Google will block that info – posting “Not Provided.” For people familiar with Google Analytics, the percentage of searches coming up under that term has grown over the past two years.

Google has said that more search data will be available as part of its Google AdWords program … hmmm.

I asked Smirk New Media Business Development Director Stephanie Bice, who oversees all things SEO and Pay-Per-Click for our clients, her reaction to this news. Here are her thoughts:

“How can you write content, unless you know what potential customers are searching for? If I’m a business and I think the keyword phrase ‘flower shop OKC’ is how customers are finding me, but they are searching for ‘flower shops in Oklahoma City,’ I won’t know that using Google Analytics.”

“Essentially, everyone (will now be) guessing what kind wording they should be using in order to drive traffic to their site.”

“Social media may end up play a bigger part in driving traffic to your site than organic searches. You’d be better off on spending your money on growing your social audience. At least you are going to be able to measure results, because of the information about the audience you will have, instead of guessing.”

Combine this with Google’s recent tweaks to it overall search algorithm and it adds up to how to get the best results: consistent social media activity and quality content.