On March 5th 2012 Google announced that they have officially launched their encrypted search features in the UK.
Google have released an official statement explaining what this change means.
“When you’re signed into Google, we add SSL encryption to increase the privacy and security of your web searches. The change encrypts your search queries and our search results page, which is particularly important when you’re using an open, unsecured Internet connection.”
Your average Google user will undoubtedly welcome the change, which paves the way for a more secure online experience. However, the new encrypted search will prove a real headache for webmasters and those in the SEO industry.
Previously when using analytical tools such as “Google Analytics” webmasters were able to see the exact phrase that a user typed in to a search engine before arriving at their website. The benefit of this is that webmasters and SEO’s are able to see what their users search intent is, as well as how well certain phrases may be performing within Google and other search engines.
When armed with this information webmasters can make improvements to the site to benefit the user experience.
With the new changes in place webmasters will only see a “(not provided)” description tag from any users who are signed in to Google at the time of making their search, therefore leaving webmasters and SEO’s alike scratching their heads as to what exactly the user has searched.
When these changes rolled out in America last year SEO’s reported seeing anything from 10% to 40% of searches appearing as “(not provided)”.
So, what do you think this change means for SEO? And what other signals can we use to determine how a user found a page? Social signals? In-site searches? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.