Every once in a while there’s an announcement that makes a huge kerfuffle online only to be yesterdays news the next week. Yesterday’s news is that Google made the move towards secure searches for Google account holders that are logged in while searching. It was actually announced on the 18th, and I didn’t see anything until Kyle mentioned it on the afternoon of the 19th, so it’s actually worse than yesterday’s news!
Anyone following search engine news would be perfectly normal to feel a bit of déjà vu since Google’s had secure search options way back in early 2010. The latest announcement that is stirring up responses is the fact that they are now dropping header info that would normally be passed along to the destination site which could then be tracked and analyzed for SEO purposes.
Google has plenty of good reasons to make this move and only a few reasons against it. Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros/cons:
- Most searchers are not logged in and won’t be effected
- Estimates fall between %3-%7 of current search traffic is logged in
- Tracking the “not provided” searches in Google Analytics will show the missing traffic
- Mobile users connecting from public WiFi networks can search securely
- Users of free internet services will have additional privacy
- is crucial and backed by Google
- Webmaster Central still provides search terms to registered owners
- Mobile searchers tend to be logged in
- Traffic projections for mobile search are growing
- Google has to make the data accessible to it’s paid users
- SSL is now becoming a much larger ranking factor
Amy Chang over on the Google Analytics blog had the following point to make:
“When a signed in user visits your site from an organic Google search, all web analytics services, including Google Analytics, will continue to recognize the visit as Google ‘organic’ search, but will no longer report the query terms that the user searched on to reach your site..”
“Keep in mind that the change will affect only a minority of your traffic. You will continue to see aggregate query data with no change, including visits from users who aren’t signed in and visits from Google ‘cpc’.”
Thom Craver, Web and Database specialist for the Saunders College at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) was quoted on Search Engine Watch as noting:
Personally, as you can tell from my lead-in, I feel like this is much ado about nothing. Unless competing search engines are willing to risk user privacy/safety to cater to SEOs in a short term bid for popularity, this isn’t going to be repealed. I don’t like to see the trend of money = access, but in this case I don’t see much choice and I’ll stand behind Google’s move for now.