Google posted today on Official Google Blog: Making search more secure they were making search more secure for users.
The process, to be enabled for searchers who are logged in when they search, will prevent the search terms searchers type in from being picked up by web analytics tools, including Google Analytics. On the Google Analytics blog, Google posted that:
- For logged in visitors, such visits will still be ‘organic’ but search terms will show as ‘not provided’. Google claims that this will only affect a minority of traffic (what is a “minority”? 10% is probably manageable but 49% will be a problem
- CPC paid search data is ‘not affected’.
For web analysts, this is a problem. The futility of trying to segment ‘not provided’ to identify what converts, does not convert is easy to imagine. Most likely we’ll resort to looking at entry pages to get a hint of what visitors’ goals are. Some sort of alternate means will have to be used to derive signals of intent.
For SEOs targeting non-branded or long tail terms, it’ll definitely be more difficult to evaluate success.
- For starters, we will not be able to filter out branded term visits. I foresee some suggested changes to web design, potentially at the expense of user experience, as SEOs try to deal with the lack of information. For example, there’ll be a push by SEOs to remove the phone number or email contact from every page, a common feature by localized businesses. Why? Because if that’s what the customers want, the bounce rate will be 100%. Currently, if we see the behaviour on a branded term, we know why and don’t worry about it.
- Sometimes through a quirk in content presentation, visitors land on the wrong page, and this can be corrected if the mismatch is detected in keyword phrase vs entry page. Now we’ll be blind to this problem.
For PPC, although Google says nothing changes, do they mean that we will still see Matched Search Query Terms coming through in the Google Analytics Adwords reports? Nick Mihailovski, co-star of Google Analytics TV with Avinash Kaushik, happened to be speaking at this afternoon, and kindly fielded some questions about this change. One thing we are still unsure about – Whether or not we’ll be greeted by ‘not provided’ for Matched Search Query Terms.
Nick was heading back out west this evening, and asked that we input any questions we have on either the blog post or on the Google Analytics TV Google Moderator site. I have input my question. Nick said there is a Google Analytics TV scheduled for this Friday.
I have input one question so far. If you like my question and want it answered by Nick and Avinash, please vote for it.
And if you ask a question on the GA TV Google Moderator site and would like to popularize it, tweet and post a link to the question in the comments below.
[Update from Nick and Avinash – Match search query will still be available for logged in users who click on Adwords ads. See Google Analytics TV Episode 22. Thanks Nick & Avinash!]
Updates – Additional posts, citing expected impact to be less than 10%:
- Adobe Industry insights (Site Catalyst impact) – The Impact of Google Encrypted Search
- SearchEngineLand – Google To Begin Encrypting Searches & Outbound Clicks By Default With SSL Search
- @Mel66 – Google’s SSL Change: A Bad Deal for PPC
- SearchEngineLand – Google Puts a Price on Privacy