Two years ago Google began encrypting organic Search terms for anyone who was logged in to Google, preventing webmasters understanding what terms drove traffic to their site from those Visitors. At the time, Google said that this would apply to only a single digit percentage of Visitors; however it is clear that the actual figure has slowly climbed and can be 50% or more. All users will now be switched to secure search; as reported by Search Engine Watch (http://ow.ly/pbF5x) who were told by Google:
“We added SSL encryption for our signed-in search users in 2011, as well as searches from the Chrome omnibox earlier this year. We are now working to bring this extra protection to more users who are not signed in”.
All the other Search Engines will still provide Search Terms and Google’s Webmaster Tools will let you see the terms for Paid Search. However, that still leaves webmasters with the problem of understanding what terms are working from an SEO point of view and, whilst there are techniques available to get more information if you have a Webmaster Tools account, these involve some effort to set up and are approximate at best. N.B. The alleged reason for this is privacy, although I can see no logic for organic searching needing to be private, but not paid searching! The industry view is that it is a ploy by Google to encourage site owners to use paid search – what do you think?