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Google Secure Search’s Effect On SEO

THE COST OF GOOGLE’S SECURE SEARCH

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Google estimates that their implementation of secure search, which strips away keyword referring data, will affect less than 10% of query data.

THOUGHT: Google is rolling out secure search, meaning if you are logged in to your Google account, it is wrapping a secure Internet connection around your search queries ostensibly to keep people from sniffing out what you’re searching for over insecure, public WiFi networks.

In the process of encrypting these searches, however, it is stripping out the keywords you use in your searches from the URL of the search results page. Example: Say you do a search for “Google Secure Search;” if you look at the URL of the page of results your query generates, you’ll see at the end of the URL this: q=google+secure+search.

Q stands for “query” and the words that follow are those keywords you used in your search. When you click on a link in those search results, the keywords from the URL are passed on to the site you visit, which can then be extracted from website traffic software like Google Analytics to tell webmasters what search terms people used to find their site.

With Google’s new secure search, webmasters will no longer get that data.

But Google’s advertisers will.

So Google made a deliberate decision to continue to provide that information to advertisers but to stop doing so for everyone else. And what is the likely result?

More advertising dollars for Google, if you want to fully understand how people are arriving at your site.

This, to use a term of art, sucks.

To be fair, I’ve checked the high-traffic sites to which I have analytics access and I’ve yet to find one where the unreported data constitutes more than 1% of the overall keyword traffic. But it’s early and this definitely merits keeping a close eye on.

But you should definitely check your own analytics to see what effect this change has on your site. In Google Analytics, the data is displayed as (not reported) in your organic keyword reports.

FOLLOW FRIDAY: Recently-former member of Team Tunheim, Maria Surma Manka.

 

Thank you for sunny Saturdays.

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About David Erickson

David Erickson is principal of e-Strategy Media, a digital marketing consultancy based in Minnesota. David has extensive experience in digital marketing and is often used as an expert source by media and asked to speak on the topic before organizations and to sit on panel discussions.

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