Privacy and SSL encryption are important to a lot of internet users. Google recognizes this and is always looking for ways to improve online security for its users. A major announcement was published yesterday on the Google Blog, touting enhanced search privacy for signed-in users.
Last year, Google introduced an encrypted search service for those who opted to use it. Now that same service will be the default search experience for users signed-in to their Google Accounts, redirecting them to https://www.google.com. According to Evelyn Kao, Product Manager at Google, the change will encrypt search queries and the results page. “As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, we recognize the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results we deliver,” wrote Kao. For those not signed in or for those who don’t have a Google account the secure site can still be accessed by navigating directly to https://www.google.com.
What does this mean for Analytics?
Currently webmasters are able to see when a visitor arrives via Google, complete with the query. Once this change rolls out, that search query will no longer be available. Those visits will still be attributed to organic search, but webmasters will see “not provided” in place of the actual search query.
Search query data will still be available in an aggregated list through Google Webmaster Tools and will show the top 1000 search queries bringing in traffic over the past 30 days.
Several Googlers estimate this change to impact a minor amount of website visits, and Matt Cutts estimates the impact to be as small as a single-digit percentage.
What are your thoughts? Is this a good or bad change for webmasters, business owners, and search marketers? For searchers?