Google recently announced that it will now use the encryption protocol called SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to encrypt all the searches that people do using the Google Search Engine if they are signed-in using their Google Account login.
This means that these logged-in Google users will be redirected to https://www.google.com (note the extra’s’) from http://www.google.com (non SSL) once they are signed-in with their Google account. This switch to SSL encrypts your search query which means that the sites the user visits after clicking on the results from Google will no longer contain the “Referrer data” (data which tells the destination site how it was found, whether from a search term entered into a search engine or from an external link) except in the case of ads.
Only Google and your web browser will see your searches and a third party (not even Google Analytics) will not know what is being searched. The new encryption will block referrer data, which means site owners will know that you came from Google, but won’t receive information on what the exact search was.
How does this affect SEO?
With the new system in place, Organic Traffic can still be tracked, but it will not be possible to drill down to the keywords from which the website visit was derived. Even Google Analytics isn’t spared, one will no longer be able to isolate the search term associated with the visit in GA.
However the keywords or terms Google search engine users use to find their websites will still be offered on Google Webmaster Central. Presently, Google Webmaster Central shows the top 1,000 queries that a site appeared for at Google – as well as was selected for – over a 30 day period.
Referrer Data for Ads:
However referrer data will be passed into the advertiser’s site, which means they (ad sites), will still receive information that they currently get with unencrypted search. The main reason stated by Google being that advertisers need the referrer data to evaluate their ad campaigns, to know which keywords or search terms are driving traffic in order to improve the ads which we believe is to keep the advertisers happy.
However, when the user is signed-in and clicks on an ad with the advertiser’s website being HTTP rather than HTTPS, Google will send the search term for that specific search to the advertiser over HTTP.
The encryption change as per Google will impact only the single digit percentage of search users, anyone who hasn’t signed-in will still send referrer data to the websites he/she visits which means lots of data for SEOs to do a conversion analysis to the keyword level.
With the move to SSL, Google has taken web search security to the next level; the trick is to balance data security for the web users and to keep advertisers happy.