Encrypted Search Data Affects SEO

Recently, Google has instituted a policy of encrypting searches that people make when they’re logged in to Google, and as a result, not providing the search terms they used to Analytics.

Google claims that they’ve instituted this as a privacy measure, but there seems to be a large body of thought which disputes this, since the data is not being withheld from Google Ads accounts, and there are people suggesting that its intention is to drive more users to Google Ads, their source of revenue.

The fact that clicking on a paid result reveals your search term to Adwords does imply that there’s more to this than simple user privacy. Otherwise why not “protect” signed in users when they click on an Ad too?

SEO Implications

Search engine optimisers rely extensively on analytics data. Knowing what search terms are bringing visitors to a site is a crucial part of measuring and updating your SEO strategy.

When this was announced on the official Google blog at the end of last month, (under the heading “Making search more secure”), Google stated that it would affect only a single percentage figure of searches. (Up to 9% in other words.)

However, now that it has been in effect for a while in some places, SEO’s and site owners are reporting that as many as 14% of searches are not having their keywords provided according to this article from Search Engine Land and they’re upset.

Understandably upset, given that the fact that this restriction isn’t applying to Google Ads as well. Unfortunately, there’s probably not much that can be done about it.

When Google implements new policy, SEO’s don’t have much choice except to roll with it.

How Do We Feel?

Well, we don’t much like it either. That said, it’s not really affecting us yet, almost certainly because the roll-out is not yet complete. Once we know how much our sites are being affected, we’ll have a more considered opinion.

In the meanwhile, we don’t like the idea. But as I said above, it’s not like we have much choice. That said, it’s my guess that South Africa has a lot less signed in searches than places like the States, even with Google’s recent emphasis on being logged in.

I guess this will give us a good idea of how many people are signed in when they search locally. We’ll keep an eye on this and update you as it goes.