Your website stats are getting a little less valuable thanks to new search feature Google is rolling out to its users. SSL encrypted search will now automatically be turned on for all logged in users, resulting in improved security and privacy for web searches.
This improved privacy will result in less available data for site owners in analytics tools, including Google Analytics. Specifically, for users with SSL search enabled it will no longer pass along the search keywords that brought them to your website. From Google’s blog post announcing the change:
What does this mean for sites that receive clicks from Google search results? When you search from https://www.google.com, websites you visit from our organic search listings will still know that you came from Google, but won’t receive information about each individual query. They can also receive an aggregated list of the top 1,000 search queries that drove traffic to their site for each of the past 30 days through Google Webmaster Tools.
Instead of being able to see what terms are bringing in site visitors and then being able to track their site path and conversion rates, all Google SSL search visitors will be grouped together and labelled as “(not provided)” in your statistics:
Fortunately, Google claims less than 10% of all search traffic will be affected by this change. You will also still be able to get aggregate keyword data on all visitors through Google Webmaster Tools. This should result in a large enough sample size that the effectiveness of analysis of search performance and keyword conversion is not impacted. It will, however, be something that needs to be monitored and factored into reviews of trends in historical data.
- Search Engine Land: Google To Begin Encrypting Searches & Outbound Clicks By Default With SSL Search
- Google: SSL Search Help Page
- Official Google Blog: Making search more secure