On Wednesday, Google stated all searches conducted on the website will now be encrypted using HTTPS, which means website owners may soon no longer have access to free keyword data through the search engine.
Search encryption started nearly two years ago, when Google introduced "(not provided)" in websites' search engine optimization reports for users who had signed into the site.
"We added SSL encryption for our signed-in search users in 2011, as well as searches from the Chrome omnibox earlier this year," an unnamed Google spokesperson told Search Engine Watch. "We're now working to bring this extra protection to more users who are not signed in."
While the change may lead businesses carrying out SEO strategies to reconsider how they acquire website analytics, the launch of search encryption has already significantly reduced keyword visibility for many website owners relying solely on Google's free services for this information. In fact, according to a recent report from BrightEdge, secure searches – those that are encrypted – represented nearly half of all search in the second quarter of 2013.
To access the information hidden by encryption, website owners can use Google Webmaster Tools to access a general picture of what words visitors are searching. Additionally, Business 2 Community recommended using landing page data. However, it's important that marketers not get bogged down on keywords and take the recent change as an opportunity focus on larger SEO strategies.