Digital Marketing News – Google’s New Search Encryption Hits SEOs


Google announced last week its intention to begin encrypting searches for logged in users in an effort to better protect their security online. This means that the search terms a user enters into Google will no longer be provided to the website owners of the sites they visit.

The reasoning behind this is a little muddy as it’s unclear how providing this information is in any way a threat to the user’s security as it doesn’t need to attributed to individuals merely the traffic source and how they found your site.

However the impact on SEOs who work hard to gain traffic through organic search is significant and has prompted a wave of negative views all across the web.

The basic issue is that if you can’t see what users are entering to get to yours and your competitors sites, how can you optimize for it? And when looking at drop out and bounce rates, analysis of how the user is navigating to your site is also much, much harder.

The changes have been implemented in as well as and will be default for all logged in users very soon including Chrome. Given the high number of people with gmail and Google+ accounts, this could represent a large proportion of searches carried out.

Of course the new security settings only apply to organic search, paid search results will continue to receive the referral data as normal. This seems to go against Google’s main objective, the put the user first.

Paid for ads aren’t necessarily going to be the best option for a user as they are in their very nature pushed to the top of rankings because somebody has paid for them to be there. Organic search rankings have always been held up as the holy grail for SEOs and reaching the top of the rankings indicates good quality content that is relevant and useful.

Analytics data is the fuel that drives this and gives website owners the insight needed to really give their customers what they want. With this update, any referrals to your site made while logged in will show up as direct traffic i.e. typing the URL directly into address bar.

Understanding search terms and their relationship to where the user is landing is key to developing a better user experience, losing this data means SEOs are effectively working in the dark with little information as to the impact of what they’re doing.

Google believe the number of affected searches will not go above the single digit mark but many believe the actual figure will be much higher although it will be a while before the true impact of this change is revealed.

Needless to say, considering the announcement comes shortly after Google launched its paid for premium service, many are wondering if Google are looking after its paying customers before everyone else. And with Google being the only link in the chain that can view this data, only they know if our sites are correctly placed in the results based on our SEO efforts.

For those who have worked hard to push out good content and work within Google’s guidelines for best practice, you can see why many are wondering why they bothered. Why not just plough that money into paying for ads that may or may not be what the user wants.

It’s a difficult place for Google to be in, effectively taking away some of the tools needed for website owners to ensure their site is available to the customers who want to find it. Everyone has different concerns on what this means for their data, but the one view coming across loud and clear is that if security was a concern there were far better ways of going about it.

SEOptimise are running a poll collecting people’s thoughts on the motivation behind the changes and in top place is encouraging more people to use PPC ads, closely followed by pushing more people to use paid for analytics. Those believing security is the top motivator is sitting at a paltry 9%.

A snapshot of the SEOptimise poll results









You can enter your own views on the changes while the poll is open and see what other people are saying. You can also read more about the changes on Google’s blog.

Editor: There is also a great summary of experts opinions of the Google SSL changes on Econsultancy

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