A Letter to Google from Inbound Marketers

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Hi Google. It’s been great between us, hasn’t it? You’ve always provided great research and measurement tools to support a great search engine, and in return, I’ve done my best to create quality material on the web. Inbound marketers and Google working together, we’ve been improving the Internet one quality web page after another for a while now.

But lately you’ve been doing a few things that make me think you don’t want inbound marketers to create excellent website content anymore. Perhaps you’re just in it to maintain your high prestige now and don’t care about us like you once did. I wanted to drop you a note about few thoughts on inbound marketers’ minds.

SSL Search Sleight of Hand

When you made SSL search the default, we all cringed as you justified hiding organic keyword traffic data in web analytics tools in the name of user privacy. While I also value user privacy, a few things about what you said didn’t add up.

For example, in a recent SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday (about six minutes in), Rand noted to Microsoft’s Duane Forrester that Bing does a good job handling user privacy for keyword traffic in web analytics tools where Google will now be sending (not provided) instead. They’re not considering any changes as drastic as you are. Why did it have to be that way, Google?

You announced that 10 percent would be the norm, and cushioned the announcement by rolling the change out slowly. Now, some sites are reporting between 20 to 50 percent of their organic search traffic as (not provided) instead of the actual keywords since you flipped the switch in early November. Personally, I’m up to about 15%.

Google Analytics Not Provided Segment

Meanwhile, AdWords customers get every bit of keyword data, personalized URLs, and all. What’s up with that? Does that mean that privacy matters unless someone is willing to pay to remove it? Are you aware of how obvious this is to people? It just seems a little evil, and I thought you were against that sort of thing. Just sayin’.

Multi-Channel Second Fiddle

When you announced Multi-Channel Funnels (MCF) in Google Analytics, I was thrilled to get a level of attribution reporting on the channels that are sending traffic to my site. It was neat to see how social media and organic search supported and assisted the goals of my websites.

But then I found that while we can segment and group traffic by channel (e.g., search, social, etc.), Google Analytics users can’t organize MCFs by organic landing page or sections of a website. How am I supposed to see how people interact with the sections of my website as they make their way through their buying process over multiple visits?

Google Analytics MCF Custom Channel Groupings

Again, you allowed us to group segments and channel groupings by AdWords landing page, but not by organic landing page, according to Nick and Avinash of Web Analytics TV (about 5:15 minutes in). Apparently, Google, you only pull in AdWords data for that feature. Of course. Inbound marketers are second fiddle again.

What Gives, Google?

I’ve heard a lot of rumblings lately that perhaps all of these recent indiscretions on inbound marketers are leading up to a suite of offerings for us in the new Google Analytics Premium. For a tiny investment of only six figures a year, I too can have my data back in addition to a person to call and talk to? It doesn’t seem like it’s a fair exchange, especially given how much we’ve given you while you were still up-and-coming.

Before Google Analytics, you knew what happened within Google search, and you saw how sites linked to each other, but you didn’t yet know how people behaved when they were on websites. You needed our data to weave together a complete picture of the web.

And so you bought Urchin, and we all signed up and gave you our data, confident that it would help you make the Internet a better place for all of us. Now I’m not sure it was such a great idea.

Google Analytics Data Sharing Settings

It feels like you got what you needed from us and now you’re going to make the collective “us” pay to continue enjoying the benefits of what we thought was a mutually beneficial relationship. Some may say that’s what we get for using a free product, but I guess I expected more from you, Google.

I want my data back. I want parity with PPC. And, I would kindly like the “&limit=N” feature back too. I miss the old Google that believed in democracy of information and in doing the right thing. Please remember all the good times we’ve had together, and reconsider some of your recent neglect of inbound marketers. Thanks for listening.

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Comments

  1. good morning Mr. Horn. I’m just now discovering your blog, after someone on Facebook left a link to it on their friends profile wall. I didn’t know before, but now I do. After checking out some of the content in your blog, I must admit that I like what you are about. Hope to hear from you momentarily, and perhaps have you become a member of my site anytime you’d like. Thank you for just being you, and keep doing what you’re doing! :-)

    Drewry

  2. Hah! This is hilarious… and spot on.

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