Google have rolled out yet another update to its services and this latest one could represent a huge slap in the face for website owners everywhere.
Essentially, Google have introduced secure search for all users with a Google account. Any search query carried out by those users who are logged-in will now be encrypted, meaning that the ‘referrer data’ will no longer be passed to the website that the user eventually visits following their search.
This ‘referrer data’ is of great value to website owners and marketers alike as it demonstrates which keywords brought the visitor to the website, consequently, helping to inform future SEO strategies. Now, all visits from signed-in Google users will be identified in analytics software by a non-descript ‘not provided’ where previously the keyword used would have appeared.
Google’s stance on the matter is that “As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, we recognize the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results we deliver.” They also predict that the rollout will affect less than 10% of searches due to the proportion of people who tend to search whilst signed in. However, several reports suggest that this figure has been underestimated and it’s probably fair to assume Google hope to convince more people to sign up and sign-in with this latest offering. So can we expect this percentage to increase?
It is clear that Google have attempted to position themselves as a company that is simply committed to protecting its users’ privacy, but given that they haven’t applied the same encrypted protection for Google Adwords (the service they directly profit from) the move has been met with suspicion and it feels more like it has been designed to gain a competitive advantage rather than anything else.
What do you think? Are Google’s motives honourable? Will encrypted search have a big impact on SEO?