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Secure Search Takes Over – The End of Search As We Know It

Secure Search Google

It’s the day that most SEO practitioners have been fearing, the day when Google would finally make our jobs a lot harder (as if they don’t do that already). Secure Search, the bane of SEO I spoke about before, has finally taken over and now practically all organic search traffic appears in Google Analytics (or Clicky if you’re one of the enlightened ones) as “Secure Search” or “Not Provided” – a real pain.

Now, the knowledge and info which was gleaned by seeing which keywords were getting traffic to your site has been taken away. This will obviously make it a lot harder to iterate and improve upon your SEO efforts but that’s just the way it is. Google make all the rules – we just have to try play them.

There is a lot of speculation now about why Google have made all searches encrypted. When I spoke about this before about 75% of searches were encrypted but I’ve noticed that figure slowly rise over the last few weeks. Then, yesterday, I came across this post on Search Engine Land, which confirms that they’ve now seen secure search appearing for 100% of organic traffic. The Search Engine Land article also puts forward some reasons as to why Google might have made the switch, namely:

  1. In the post Prism era we find ourselves in, to diminish the privacy fears of users, Google have made all searches encrypted.
  2. As all secure search data is still available when using Google PPC advertising which suggests that it could be a ploy to get more people to pay for Google ads rather than pay an SEO expert.

I think the first of the above is a non runner, a bit of spin and PR by Google if anything. The fact that search data is available via PPC kind of shows that privacy may not be the main motivator.

Secure Search Takes Over – Wouldn’t You Love To Know?

Secure Search Takes Over

I also came across a great theory as to why secure search may have been rolled out on Moz a few weeks back by Will Critchlow and this idea kind of jives with me (video below). Google now uses a lot more than just what we type into the search box to deliver results to us. For example, if you are based in Dublin and search for “Italian restaurant” Google will more than likely return some results of Italian restaurants based in Dublin. Think about that for a second.

Google is no longer using JUST the search query entered to deliver results but is pulling in additional user data such as location, device being used, search history etc etc. This in a way kind of ties in with my musings about Google Plus and whether or not it’s permanent.

If Google is using information about us to deliver search results you can assume that they’re going to use as much info they have about us, and store it for as long as they can (forever??) to deliver search results to us.

Ultimately, secure search has now taken over and I think this could be the end of search as we know it. Not just for SEO practitioners but for end users.

What do you think? Are you annoyed at the change to secure search or does it bother you at all? What do you think is Googles real motivator for the shift to secure search? As always, comment below with your thoughts and sharing this post is tax free today!

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