Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Google Secure Search and what it means for SEO's

I was editing videos from Search and Social Hawaii diligently and getting ready for my talk on SEO this Thursday when I saw a post update from the Google Analytics Blog addressing the announcement that Google is going to make search more secure. So I came out of my hole for a moment to draft up a quick blog post to clear up any questions.

Google says:

"As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, we recognize the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results we deliver. As a result, we’re enhancing our default search experience for signed-in users. Over the next few weeks, many of you will find yourselves redirected to https://www.google.com (note the extra “s”) when you’re signed in to your Google Account. This change encrypts your search queries and Google’s results page. This is especially important when you’re using an unsecured Internet connection, such as a WiFi hotspot in an Internet cafe. You can also navigate tohttps://www.google.com directly if you’re signed out or if you don’t have a Google Account."


What does this mean for SEO's?

Rankings:
It doesn't directly effect rankings as a whole, but it does effect the individual user's results as they will see a more personalized list of websites in their search results. In all honesty, that doesn't change anymore than what us SEO's have been working towards for several years now since Google setup Gmail and a login feature for their products and searches. It just means that instead of a few users seeing personalized results, more users will start to see personalized results. So dont' focus on whether or not your target audience is going to be logged in and what they might see in their personalized results, assume that all of them are.

Analytics:
Now here's where it gets tricky. The Google Analytics team is working very closely with the rest of the company to ensure that data is being passed showing the referring URL and Terms from paid and natural search results.

"How will this change impact Google Analytics users?
When a signed in user visits your site from an organic Google search, all web analytics services, including Google Analytics, will continue to recognize the visit as Google “organic” search, but will no longer report the query terms that the user searched on to reach your site. Keep in mind that the change will affect only a minority of your traffic. You will continue to see aggregate query data with no change, including visits from users who aren’t signed in and visits from Google "cpc"."


What is Google Analytics doing about it?
We are still measuring all SEO traffic. You will still be able to see your conversion rates, segmentations, and more.

Which is great for those of you that have Google Analytics installed on their websites, but what about Omniture or Webtrends?
In 2005 when I was working with Omniture to start showing referring key terms for SEO and streamlining our PPC within the system they were able to crack the code and get us the robust tracking we see today. While I don't see a blog post on either Omniture, or Webtrands blogs (I'll add the links in a comment as soon as I see something) I can assure you that Google doesn't want to hide anything from us SEO's and Marketers. They want us to be able to see the referring traffic and asses what is working, and what isn't. If we don't see it, we can't create a better user experience, and that would go against all of Google's ideals.

For those of you that rely solely on Omniture (or have clients that do) take a moment and reconsider adding the Google Analytic tracking onto the website (or talk to your clients about it) for the time being.

So never fear, rankings will still go on as usual, and the ability to track in Google Analytics won't be effected in any way...

Carry on...