We all remember when Google announced encrypted search results for those performing searches on Google while logged in to a Google account. How can we not considering (not provided) is the most common search term in our organic reports?
While it was suggested that organic search in analytics wouldn’t be drastically affected, as marketers, we soon learned that this wasn’t the case, with many of us seeing 30% to upwards of 50% of our traffic coming in as a result of an encrypted search.
Of course, the reasoning behind organic encrypted search isn’t in the interest of marketers, but the privacy of Google users. It’s a valiant effort that has made searching more secure, but SEO more problematic.
And now this…
We recently noticed a sudden increase in organic encrypted results across client data as a whole. While it’s not totally uncommon to see up to 50% of your keyword results coming in from an encrypted search, to see that number reach 70% across multiple clients raised a few flags.
Looking deeper into the issues we discovered that even when we weren’t logged in to a Google account, our searches were being redirected from http to https. Obviously, this wasn’t what we were expecting to see.
Our development team then completed several more thorough search tests across current popular browsers and found that when not logged-in, they were redirected to an https version of Google in Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer (IE), meaning this issue is not limited to a single browser. They also found that Google is not redirecting faceless browsers (such as scripting tools or Linux systems).
What does this mean?
Well, for one thing, you will likely begin to notice that you aren’t capturing organic keyword data as expected and you should brace yourself for higher numbers in the (‘not provided’) keyword slot.
But a bigger question: Why is this occurring? Could this be a sign of Google moving towards more encryption and therefore more privacy for all coming to their search engine? Is this a move to further push marketing away from SEO and towards paid efforts where keyword visibility is not currently affected by encrypted results?
There’s been no announcement from Google regarding this issue. However, as buzz begins to circulate, it’s likely we’ll all know something more soon.
While there is no way to recover this lost data, you can get a general idea as to the keywords driving traffic by looking at the landing pages these (not provided) visitors use to enter your site. The topics of these pages, and what they are optimized for, should give you a general idea as to keyword sources.
As updates come in, we’ll be sure to keep you informed at www.mongoosemetrics.com/blog.