Secure search and its implications

secure search on Google

Google recently introduced a secure search protocol – meaning that every search performed on Google is now secure. Any keyword typed in as a Google search will be listed as “not provided” to the website owners using analytics software. This means that website owners will not have access to the keywords that directed readers to a website through organic search. But the good news is that some keyword data is still available in Google Webmaster Tools.

Let’s look at some implications of the secure search protocol and how they can be overcome using data from Webmaster Tools.

#1: Branded and non-branded traffic

We often see a correlation between branded and non-branded traffic where an increase in non-branded traffic over time provides a lift to branded traffic as well. This data will become more obscure as a result of secure search. In a 100% not provided world, this trend becomes harder to prove. But as searcher habits don’t change over time, we expect this trend to continue.

#2: Keywords and conversions:

With the introduction of secure search there is no way to tie conversions directly to keywords. Using our own search engine optimization practice as an example, it will no longer be possible for us to tie conversions directly back to a keyword. So if you are in effect placing efforts on a specific keyword and expecting to see conversions from it, then that level of detail is gone. However, we will still be able to prove how well organic search works as all of the other reports are still available in Google Analytics. This includes overall organic traffic reports, landing page reports, etc. Also, if you’re using marketing automation software like Hubspot you should be able to tie your conversions back to organic search too.

#3: Keyword trending data

Trends for keywords will not be comparable to keyword data from the past as new keyword data is coming from a different tool. If you’ve been using Google Analytics to collect keyword data in the past, you’ll find that data in Google Webmaster tools is different. Instead of visits it reports on clicks. It will be a challenge to compare keyword data from one tool to another. But we foresee this as a short term challenge, which can be overcome as more and more keyword data gets collected from Webmaster tools.

At the end of the day, we are accountable to our clients for results. Are our efforts helping clients with their end results? Are they getting more sales, more leads, more enrollments, etc.? If yes, then no matter how much data Google takes away we will still be able to show that the work we do bears results, even if we can’t tie it back directly to keywords.