Google has taken some big steps to make search more secure, but what does it really mean for website owners? Here’s a run down of Google’s move to 100% secure search and the impact it has on business.
Google’s Move to 100% Secure Search
The steady rise in (not provided) data has been no stranger to website owners and marketers over the last year. The term kicked in during 2011 following Google's decision to encrypt search queries for users logged into their Google accounts - and for those searching for anything via the Chrome omnibox.
Since then, Google has made the decision to switch to 100% secure search - and this September, confirmed a change to encrypt all search activity (except for clicks on ads).
The move to 100% secure search means that when you search on Google and click through to a website, the website owner can no longer see the keywords you searched for (on Google) that brought you to their site. Instead, you'll see: Not provided.
Here demonstrates a problem for website owners and marketers... You can no longer track users by the keywords they’ve used to get to your website through organic search.
Why the Move to Secure Search?
There are several theories behind the move. Google says it has been done to provide extra protection for searches (see Google's comment below), however could it well be a move to boost AdWords sales?
We want to provide SSL protection to as many users as we can, in as many regions as we can — we added non-signed-in Chrome omnibox searches earlier this year, and more recently other users who aren’t signed in. We’re going to continue expanding our use of SSL in our services because we believe it’s a good thing for users….The motivation here is not to drive the ads side — it’s for our search users.
What Does this Mean to Business?
This change means it is now more difficult to measure SEO campaigns based on the performance of individual keywords. Some analysis of keyword performance can still be gained by using ranking data combined with traffic data from Google Webmaster Tools, however, this is expected to lose much of its accuracy.
This means that businesses need to focus more on customer and user satisfaction - for example, getting to know your users, understanding and segmenting their needs and optimising their journeys. This includes providing rich, quality content that users find compelling and interesting. This also means that as a website owner, you need to focus on the design, build and tailoring of your site, to really connect with your audience.