Amid far flung cries of privacy concerns against it, search engine Google has stepped up measures to make its service more secure and private. Just a week ago, Google rolled out the SSL encrypted version of its web search engine, thereby offering users a much more secure search experience. It is accessible by typing "https" instead of "http" in the URL address bar. In the wake of this new development I would like to share some thoughts and concerns how this is going to affect the search engine optimization landscape as well as web analytics results.
Google has been using SSL encryption for its services like Gmail, Google Docs and other services in the past, but not in the actual Google search. While this is a major step from Google to offer users enhanced privacy, it does cause some serious concerns for internet marketers and web analytics professionals. As you may know, secured search stops traffic source info, which means if a user is using a secured search version then referrer data is not being sent. This can cause potential effects on SEM campaigns, especially in getting the ‘most searched terms’ in short keywords.
Analyzing the most searched terms used in browsers, is a very important step used in SEO keyword research. Enabling of SSL encryption removes this ability, as there is no referrer data being sent. If that is the case then analytical tools will not be able to register search term details used by searchers for executing searches. By restricting the referrer information, I suppose web marketers and business owners are going to lose very valuable data used to measure the effectiveness of the search environment as well as PPC campaigns.
Now the million dollar question in the minds of many is – Will Google Analytics be able to fetch referrer data from SSL Google? Hmmmmm…