Well, it's finally happening. Google has announced that it will stop passing along organic keyword values to Google Analytics. The values will not flow through as users are being directed to the secure version of Google. Even if you type in http://Google.com your browser will redirect you to the secure version. (https)
Why are they doing this?
Basically this does two things. It keeps the SEO's guessing and more importantly it puts the focus squarely on content. Google wants websites to be important with regards to the quality of their content rather than just the quality of the marketing ability.
Some may argue a Google-conspiracy theory at work in that this will just push more activity to Google Adwords (Adwords keyword data will still flow through to analytics) and therefore help drive revenue. Hooray for shareholders if that's the case; Booo for website owners and those just relying on organic activity.
Keyword data will still flow for Yahoo and Bing - and I believe there is a huge opportunity for many sites to grab valuable long tail traffic from those search engines as well.
So. What should you do?
My first thought is to make sure you have your pages cleaned up and organized. Get rid of duplicate titles and description. Organize your organic efforts and be sure you're tracking your keywords and their respective pages within your software - regardless of who is managing the efforts. You need to know where you rank, what the long term performance of that page is and how it performs.
Are you creating individual content for that page? Do you have something different (something different than the thousands of other pages that have been created by your website vendor for the other dealers on the same platform?)
Are you tracking the performance of the pages and their content? Here's an example of a custom Google analytics report you can use to easily track how your pages are performing: Content Efficiency Analysis. Be sure to set up your goal conversion tracking to track the form activity.
Do you have custom tracking numbers on your pages? Track as much as possible.
And lastly - Merchandise as best as possible. You're still going to drive valuable traffic to your site, so make it all worthwhile for the visitors. You know the drill: 35+ photos real videos, price, location, phone number, history reports, etc. And make sure sure the photos are high quality, in a photo booth if possible with great lighting. This all comes together like a puzzle to drive results.
Nobody knows for sure where the analytics reporting is headed, but we've known this day was coming. Maybe Google is done giving this product away for free. They have plenty of data; paid analytics could be the next step. (I've also said it for a while - this is the beginning of the Semantic Web/Structured Data...more on that in another post)
Don't be left behind and neglect the best practices for on-page optimization, usability and tracking keyword ranking with helpful search programs.
How do you see this changing your activities?