Finally a little relief from the ambiguous realm of “not provided.” Facebook recently announced that virtually all users will now have a secure connection by default. Although the concept itself is nothing new, the fact that Facebook will be also passing along referrer data (while still preserving user IDs and other sensitive information) to sites with or without a secure connection is something worth discussing.

Facebook’s embrace of HTTPS comes at a time when the issue of consumer privacy is being hotly debated. Direct access to the wants and needs of customers seems to be diminishing as more data sources shift to secure search. And as more large companies change their stance on referrer data, the future of search data Web analytics seems a bit shaky overall.

Take the issue of “keyword not provided,” which I recently discussed in depth, and the startling fact that 40 to 60 percent of websites are missing keyword-level data.  For now, hiding keyword data is accepted as a basic tenet of consumer privacy. A recent study published by Search Engine Land found that the level of search data obscurity depends primarily on your audience. Still, one of the greatest SEO challenges search marketers face is how to pull missing data through in a way that preserves consumer privacy. If Facebook can find a way to preserve marketing data, why can’t we preserve it for SEO?

What marketing data do you believe should be hidden? What should be revealed?

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