It seems like Google is regularly shaking up the search engine optimization game, and their latest announcement is no different. Although Google launched encrypted search almost three years ago, recent changes make this setting even more important for marketers to pay attention to. If you care about your search engine results, here’s what you need to know.
There are two different versions of the Google search page – the http:// version and https:// versions. The latter, encrypted search, initially launched in May 2010 and was an option for all Google users, but not a requirement. Just a year later, Google began directing all U.S. users who were signed into their Google accounts to the secure version of the site. As a result, many webmasters were seeing a “not provided” row in their Google Analytics or other web analytics data.
Although Google claimed that the “not provided” results would only affect 5% of searches, the results were much higher. Last month, BrightEdge released their findings from a study on keyword results. They found that the percentage of “not provided” data was over 50% in many industries.
Now, Google has turned on the secure search feature for all users – whether they are signed into Google or not.
The official word from Google is:
“We added SSL encryption for our signed-in search users in 2011, as well as searches from the Chrome omnibox earlier this year. We’re now working to bring this extra protection to more users who are not signed in.
We want to provide SSL protection to as many users as we can, in as many regions as we can — we added non-signed-in Chrome omnibox searches earlier this year, and more recently other users who aren’t signed in. We’re going to continue expanding our use of SSL in our services because we believe it’s a good thing for users….
The motivation here is not to drive the ads side — it’s for our search users.” (Source)
What does this mean for you?
Although there are methods for determining the “not provided” data, the nature of search engine optimization is changing. With this update, Google is de-emphasizing the worth of individual keywords and focusing on overall page performance.
Chasing one particular keyword and over-optimizing for that isn’t going to work anymore – and with the emphasis on authorship and social search, it hasn’t worked well for a while now. This newest update is the final nail in the coffin of segmented SEO. If you want to appear in search, you have to take an integrated approach – great content, engaging social and a strong brand identity.