In the new world of marketing, data is everything. It helps us identify strengths and weaknesses in a marketing campaign or strategy. It shows us where we need to make a change or build upon an existing plan. And it allows us to shape and form our marketing efforts to meet the needs of the most important people in our world: the audience. Any threat to that, and we quickly enter Mama Bear Mode, ready to pounce at anything attempting to keep us away.

Earlier this month Google introduced a new barrier between marketers and their audience by announcing they would begin encrypting all searches on Google, making the once hyperbolic fear of “the end of SEO” suddenly all too real for marketers.

According to SEO-prophecies, the signs were everywhere. Before the term ‘encrypted keywords’ was added to SEO vernacular, marketers could break down their organic search and trace the path of how a user ended up on their site. Marketers at, for example, could see that a search for “online dating” brought many people to their homepage. Using this data, they could then enrich the website’s content with that term and other popular keywords to boost their rankings in search results. All businesses with a website had access to this information, and all was right in the world.

But then in 2010, Google introduced its SSL encryption services for Chrome users and anyone signed into a Google-owned account, such as Gmail or YouTube. While this prevented marketers from identifying which keywords a person searched prior to getting to their site, it only affected a small portion of organic search traffic. Sure, many web analysts noticed the number of users whose sources were “not provided” grew steadily after the programs initial launch. But there still remained plenty of data marketers could work with.

Now, however, Google has extended this protection to Google or Chrome users who are not signed in to Google, meaning that instead of only some organic Google searches being encrypted, 100 percent of them will be—with the exception of ad clicks.

So why the Google crackdown? While the search giant hasn’t made an official announcement, there are some theories sprouting across the Internet.

After being accused of providing the NSA with access to a ton of search data, Google is simply trying to save face, stick it to the man, and make nice nice with its customers. Not a bad business move.

It’s also no coincidence that Google will be encrypting everything but ad clicks. You should expect to see a big rush for Google AdWords since it’ll be one of the only ways to meticulously track a consumer’s online search behavior. Again, not a bad move on Google’s part.

So does this mean tracing the source of your organic traffic will soon start to look like a chapter out of The Da Vinci Code?

For the meantime, in some ways, yes. But it’s not all so bad.

Yes, your web analytics will be affected; no matter what platform you use to obtain your information. But this only means you have to step up your content game. We’ve already known Google’s been cracking down on those taking advantage of shady SEO tactics by making smarter, more effective algorithms. So this serves as another reminder that it’s time to focus less on keywords and more on developing rich, quality content.

Also, just because Google’s restricting its searches doesn’t mean every search engine is. Google may rule the land of search, but you’ll still be able to see your beloved keywords from Bing, Yahoo, AOL, etc.  But if that just won’t do, Google AdWords may be worth investing in since those keywords will still be traceable.

If you’re looking for a silver lining, remember that organic search can still be measured, just not in the detailed way we’ve been used to. And as you’ve seen with every other change that’s thrown the world of marketing off-kilter, we’ll find a way around it.