Google Security Changes: How They Could Affect You

Google announced at the end of October that they would be making some security changes to the way that people are allowed to use the search engine. These changes mean that if you are logged in to a Google account when conducting a search, Google will now use the secure version – the ‘SSL-enabled’ version- to provide your results. Basically what this means is that third party systems (i.e. Google Analytics) will no longer be able to access the keywords that users search to get to your website. Confused? Okay, we’ll break it down for you!

SSL-Enabled Google Search

This is an encryption protocol, a way that Google can ensure that what you search is protected – meaning third parties can’t see your search queries. At the moment, this search function will be automatic only when you are signed into your Google account.

How this could affect you:

As mentioned, this new feature means that third parties will not be able to carry out certain functions to the same degree as before this change. At Bang Online, we use Google Analytics to track referrers to your (or our clients’) website. A web referral is just like a business referral – through Analytics, we can see how a customer or web user has landed on a site, and this is often by typing in keywords through the Google search engine. For example, if you own a hotel, users may search ‘accommodation Perth’ to access your website. We then see how many users have searched certain keywords to make sure we can optimize for the most-searched terms.

With protected searches, it makes it more difficult for us to get a complete representation of a website’s referrals – we can still obtain the stats, however searches that occurred when a user was logged in will just show us that they came from, rather than what keywords were used to get to the site. The ranking reports that you receive each month will reflect this – you may see traffic come to your site that is not outlined in the report. Google estimates that this will only affect a maximum of 10% of searches, which is a very small portion – and so far it has affected 9% of our traffic, so this is quite an accurate estimate.

We will continue to monitor the changes made by Google, as well as the traffic and results we see through our reports, and keep you updated via our blog and newsletter. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email.