Google recently announced a change in the way they share data that will impact marketers who track and analyze natural search data. As part on an ongoing effort to provide a secure search experience for users, Google has decided that they will no longer share natural search queries from some users with third-party companies, including analytics tools.
This SSL Search update will only impact a percentage of Google searches, as it is currently only the default for users who are logged in to Google tools (like Gmail). Others may go directly to https://www.google.com (see that extra little “s” hiding in there?) to use the secure search, but individuals who go to http://www.google.com and are not signed in to any Google tools will not be impacted by this security update and search terms will continue to pass to third-party tools.
What does this mean for SEO gurus? It means that all referred clicks will still show Google as the referrer, but you may begin to see a smaller number of specific search engine queries passed through to your analytics tools. How much will things change? According to Google, only 10% of searchers are signed in. So you’re likely to see very little impact on your search traffic. More good news – Google Webmaster Tools will still provide an aggregate list of the top 1,000 search terms for the purposes of trend analysis, those terms just won’t be tied to specific individuals.
These changes have no impact on paid search analytics. If an individual chooses to click on a paid link, you’ll still see the exact query that led them to that result.