Sam Oh

Take Note: Google Secure Search Impacts Analytics

By Sam Oh, Marketing Technologist

Whether you use Google Analytics or Omniture for reporting, know how Secure Search will impact program measurement.

In May of 2010, Google launched its new Secure Search (or SSL Search) for public use. Users had to type in https://www.google.com (adding the ‘s’ after http) to reach Google Secure Search. By adding a secure option for search, Google created a way for people to protect their search queries and results from third-party sites or services, providing privacy. Learn more about Google Secure Search.

On October 18, 2011, Google made another change to make Secure Search the default when someone is logged into one of the Google services (e.g., gmail, google+, etc.).  This means anyone logged into gmail who searches the Web using the same browser will be performing a Secure Search. However, there are still a few gaps. For example, if someone is logged in and searches using the browser toolbar, he or she is most likely not performing a secure search, as the toolbar was not setup with the https URL. In addition, searches that result in a paid link click will continue to report the original search query by the user.

So, how does this affect those who build and manage sites? Google’s Secure Search will no longer report organic (non-paid click) results in any third-party Web analytics tool, including Google Analytics. According to Google, this should affect less than 10% of overall search traffic. It may differ from site to site though. If your site uses Google Analytics, Secure Search will appear in keyword reports. If you’re an Omniture user, these searches will no longer be considered search engine traffic. Find info on how to report on Secure Searches in Omniture.

Providing relevant, accurate content is still the best way to get your site to rank well within Google. Moving forward, Google will continue to address user privacy and modify the way search results rank pages, and as online marketers, we must continue to adapt.

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