Recently Google made an announcement that they were “Making Search More Secure” through a change that will no doubt have a huge impact on the search engine optimization community. The basic change is that anyone who happens to be logged into a Google account (Gmail, Picasa, Google+, etc) and performs a Google search will do so through a secure (SSL) page. Previously, when users clicked on an organic search result the keyword phrase they searched for to find the result would be passed through to the website and ultimately into the web analytics program. However, under the change the search for logged in users will be done via SSL and therefore the data becomes encrypted and no longer passes the keyword phrase into the analytics program. Rest assured Google is still storing this data for themselves.
The Headaches This Will Cause
Keyword data is vital to SEO for a number of reasons. Among them is the ability to tie conversions/sales to specific keyword phrases. Knowing which phrases work (or don’t) allows for adjustments to be made to the search engine optimization campaign in order to enhance user experience and ultimately increased conversion rates. Google claims this will only affect single digit percentages of search, but many believe this number is far from being accurate.
Google already has a large hold on the web with properties like Youtube, Picasa, Gmail, and more. Add the recent release of Google+, Google hopes many more users not part of the Google network will signup for the social service allowing them to have you “signed in” to a Google property until you sign out.
While this will have little or no impact on the common user, the headaches it will cause the SEO industry will be far and wide.
Do No Evil
What is strange about this recent announcement is that it only affects organic searches while pay per click (PPC) will continue to pass keyword data to the advertisers campaign data. If privacy was really a concern of Google, wouldn’t they protect keyword data for all searches? Both paid and organic?