Google’s Analytics blog announced on 18th October that SSL search will be the default for signed in Google searchers. What this means in terms of SEO is that it will be more difficult for people to analyse the effect of keywords in terms of traffic and conversions.
This is because for users using SSL search (default for signed in users), the actual search query that someone types to find and subsequently click on your website in organic search will not be provided in Google Analytics. You’ll still be able to see organic traffic and goals but for these signed in searches you’ll see (not provided) on the query.
Google’s stance is that this is all about protecting the security of users.
PPC traffic will be unaffected. Forgive my cynicism here but I do wonder why the security of signed in searchers clicking on a result for which Google will earn no revenue is more important than the security of users who click on a result that will earn Google a few quid. As yet, that’s unexplained.
How Many Searches Does this Affect?
Initially, this will roll out only in google.com initially (not google.co.uk or other international variations). It’s a fair assumption that this will ultimately roll out globally.
We’ve been unable to find any exact statistics from Google about the quantity of searches that come from signed in users. However, Matt Cutts confirmed to Search Engine Land that even when this is at ‘full roll out’ he estimates this will account for ‘single digit percentages’ of all searches. So the actual impact will probably be fairly small initially, though we wouldn’t be surprised to see Google account holders increase and thus signed in searches too.
The problem with this is that it restricts our data to a degree. If we achieve amazing rankings for a keyword and drive loads of traffic, the SEO team at Tecmark like to be able to fully analyse that traffic (all of it) to communicate to a client exactly how much traffic we drove, what it did on their website and how much revenue that keyword ultimately resulted in.
On the Flip Side
This (not provided) search query data will be an inconvenience, absolutely. However, with that said, it will also give us something of an insight into the quantity of searches that arrive at a site from signed in searchers.
Google also confirmed that Webmaster Tools will supply a list of the top 1000 search queries referring traffic over the course of a month, thus providing some data.
On the Whole
An inconvenience, yes. The end of the world? Not at all! We’ll still be able to make educated assessments on traffic and conversions though it won’t be as convenient to pick out certain details.
We’ll let you know when this rolls out globally.