Today Google announced SSL Search has been made the default search option for users signed into Google (https://www.google.com.au), in order to better protect user privacy. For those not familiar with SSL (Secure Socket Layer), it is an encrypted connection between you (the client) and a server. SSL is denoted by https:// in the URL of a website instead of http://, and is commonly seen on E-Commerce check-out websites to protect credit card information. More recently, it has become an option for Facebook users to protect their accounts.
So how does this affect online marketing? Well, SSL visits will be differentiated in Google Analytics (as well as other Web Analytic tools), although visits will continue to be counted as ‘organic’. The major difference is that the specific search query (keywords) will not be reported. Since the queries will not appear this will also affect the Organic Search Traffic Keyword reports. Analytics will instead display (not provided) to help identify a signed-in organic search visitors.
Interestingly enough, SSL Search will not affect any AdWords visitor data, regardless of whether you’re signed in or not.
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”.
You’ll have noticed how Google keeps on incorporating Google Accounts with many of their free tools, so users have to be signed in to take full advantage of Google Places, Google Docs, Google Alerts, and of course, the recently released of Google+. The concern for marketers is that as these tools and platforms become more popular, more users will remain logged in while they surf the web.
So what happens when the minority become the majority? With SSL Search as the default option for signed-in users, web analysts and marketing specialists stand to lose a lot of valuable data, and the ability to draw relevant insights along with it.
How do you think this change will affect your online strategy and ROI?