An Analysis of Google Search and Encrypted Search
Google has begun to encrypt its searches end of 2011 (October 2011). It first started on Google.com before expending to more Google properties and countries in May 2012.
But what does encrypted search mean?
Actually if a user searches on Google, some informations about the search query can be collected by third parties such as web analytics tools. For instance, it helps webmarketers understand which search terms brought traffic to their website.
By encrypting its search results pages, Google offers its users to “search more securely”. Nevertheless, only the signed-in users have the ssl version of Google Search. This is only users who have a Google account and are signed-in while surfing and searching on Google.
What’s is the impact for Google Analytics?
Since third parties can’t collect properly all the information from traffic coming from Google encrypted search, Google Analytics won’t be able to record from which keyword the visit from a visitor who searched on Google came from.
Previously you were able to know all the keywords that generated traffic to your website. Today, traffic coming from Google Search encrypted has no information about the searched query. Google Analytics will now display (not provided) instead of the search query.
What’s the impact?
We aggregated Google Analytics data and we came to a double digit impact. Early April 2012 (1-15), the average percentage of visits coming from the (not provided) queries was at 15,23%. The median was at 13,48%.
In other words, one user out of ten is signed-in in Google and we won’t have his search queries info anymore. Nevertheless in terms of analysis it won’t have an important impact because we still have 85%+ of data available!
Written by Nicolas Debray
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12 June 2013 / 13 June 2013