Big News: Google Moves Totally to Secure Search
Google announced a major change this week that is sure to be a huge letdown for many marketers and SEO professionals. Basically, keyword data will now just be a fond memory. Google has switched entirely to secure (encrypted) search, meaning keyword data will no longer be available to website owners.
As Thom Craver at Search Engine Watch noted in Goodbye, Keyword Data: Google Moves Entirely to Secure Search, encrypted Google searches don’t pass the keyword data through to websites, thereby eliminating the ability to track users by their keyword searches.
“We added SSL encryption for our signed-in search users in 2011, as well as searches from the Chrome omnibox earlier this year,” a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Watch. “We’re now working to bring this extra protection to more users who are not signed in.”
Craver noted that when encrypted search first launched in May 2010, Google initially had encrypted search on a separate URL. A year later, in late 2011, Google started redirecting all U.S. users who were signed into their Google Accounts to the encrypted version at https://google.com. This led to the now-infamous “(not provided)” row in keywords data in Google Analytics and other web traffic software packages.
As time rolled on, the conversion to encrypted search expanded globally to all signed-in users then even further to include default searching in Firefox. Just last month, BrightEdge released a study fining the percentage of “(not provided)” data was over 50 percent for some industries.
At this point, Craver says it seems even when you aren’t logged in, using private browsing (or incognito mode) and forcibly type HTTP://www.google.com, you are being redirected to the HTTPS version, thereby encrypting your search and no doubt leading to a total removal of keyword data – at least from Google search visitors. Remember, keyword data from other search engines – like Bing, for example – still send keyword data through.
Obviously, this is a very new development and marketers are still absorbing it and trying to understand what it means—and how to come up with strategies to deal with the fallout. We will of course share with you any new developments in this area. Meanwhile, be sure to review the array of search-related services we provide.