Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions G+ community.
Federico Sasso: > ...is anyone looking at alternatives to GA?<br />No point searching for alternatives to Google Analytics, it's Google Search which is not passing keyword data in the first place.
Tony McCreath: Am I right that https does not stop the data in itself, but Google is stopping it passing somehow when https is used for a serp page? If so, how are they stopping it?
Tony McCreath: Or does the https standard ask browsers not to send full referrer urls?
Dave Elliott: where is ; when you need him! I think that it doesn't stop the data itself (otherwise for example, how would a server know which page to grab, when requested by a ;user??) but i get very confused very quickly when it gets this scientific!
Jon Dunn: I think other analytics packages may be able to get this info?
Dave Elliott: No chance , Its google that is denying the data NOT GA, you will be able to get data from bing, yahoo and baidu etc(well, presuming they don't choose to do the same thing) in GA or anywhere else, but, Google keyword data won't be available.<br /><br />What might be possible is that programmes/tools will work out a way to grab the data from a webmaster tools account (which seems to still be showing data, which is weird.....) and give us a bit of data back. I have already asked the question of ; and would be interested to hear anything from the like of ;, ; and all the other SEO platforms to see how they are going to deal with this. Whoever finds a decent solution/work around may well get lots more customers!!
Tony McCreath: I did some digging.<br /><br />Browsers that do not send referrer data when going from https to http. Some may or did send referrer data if it is https to https. So it could have been possible to switch your website to https and retain the referrer. Could...<br /><br />However Google is working with modern browsers to change that:<br /><br /><br /><br />This states they add a referrer meta tag with value "origin" which I think means only pass referer values to destinations on the same origin (domain). So Only Google https to Google https will see referrers.<br /><br />Another interesting idea I spotted could be used to solve this. Google owns Google Analytics so can share encrypted data between the search results and Analytics via query parameters. e.g. Google search can add say a utm_searchterm value to all URLs that is set to an encrypted form of the keyword. Only Analytics has the private key to decrypt it. That would annoy the competitors of Analytics!<br /><br />I'm still not clear on what particular bits of privacy they want to protect. The old referer data included a lot more than just the search term. ;So are we losing the search term as collateral damage to hide personal details. If so, why not just add a plain utm_searchterm to the links. For safety this could be an opt in via GWT like AdWords has an opt out for it.