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How Will Google’s SSL Encryption Affect Natural Search?

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
20 October 2011

Google engineer Matt Cutts announced earlier this week that all Google.com users logged into their Google accounts (like gmail) will not be traceable.  This means SEOs like ourselves cannot track what keywords have been used to arrive at our clients’ sites.  However, even while on personalised search, the PPC ads are still trackable.

Why the move now?  Google says it’s to protect users privacy, but I think it has other implications.  It’s a slightly worrying sign of how Google are moving to push PPC, probably due to the competition they’re facing from other channels. However, as it stands, we believe the impact will be minimal – once the impact (in percentage terms) is clear, it won’t be difficult to estimate the missing traffic based on the data that is still available, and additionally in Webmaster Tools.

If it’s the start of things to come, however, it could well result in natural search having to rely a lot more on PPC data for things like keyword trends and analysis.  It will affect all analytics providers, so everyone will be in the same boat – no matter what tool you use but as of right now, only on Google.com and not on Google.co.uk.  Supposedly, Matt Cutts says that  “less than 10%” of searches are done from Google accounts – but I’m not sure that’s true.

We’ll be keeping an eye on this one, as Google continues to change the search scene.   Just wondering how the other engines may follow suit.  What do you think?

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