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Google to Switch to SSL and Stop Sending Referers

Yesterday Google posted a bombshell on their blog.  The post was called “Making Search More Secure.”  The jist of the post is that Google will start forcing logged in users to “secure search” which is esentially – The consequence of this is that users that click a search engine result through a “secure search” will not pass the referring keyword along with them.  This means that your analytics software will be able detect that a user came from Google but not WHICH TERM they used to get there.  This is quite a step back from what’s happened in recent years where we can actually get more and more information about our users, not less.  You will still be able to see the referrers of non logged in users, so you don’t lose all keyword referrer data but you do lose some.

This is going to be wide reaching.  Lot’s of different internet marketing niches rely heavily on analytics and keyword referrer data.  Blackhat SEO’s are going to probably be hit super hard, especially ones who adjust the content of their site to reflect the keywords referred.  Even the most white hat of sites like ecommerce sites are going to be effected because they won’t be able to accurately judge how people are arriving at their sites.

There’s nothing we can do about it.  Google loves making the jobs of internet marketers harder so we just have to adjust.

One thing i’m really surprised about is that Google didn’t execute this new move differently.  Hear me out here:

Google likes people to use Google Analytics because it allows them to accumulate more and more data about the web.  Google also loves to dominate industries.  Although i’m not for it, Google has a huge opportunity here to make every other Analytics software completely worthless and FORCE people to use Google Analytics.  Since Google owns both the search and the analytics they could easily securely transfer the referrer data from the search to Google Analytics using some kind of encryption.  That would make Google Analytics the ONLY analytics software able to give you complete keyword referrer analytical data and give Google Analytics control over the entire analytics industry.

But I digress….

What are your thoughts on this move?

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Published inSearch Engines


  1. FYPme FYPme

    Adhustler I think what your saying about them and the analytics is what it will come down to. Google loves to control the roll of the dice just give them some time to announce analytics ssl tracking. I have not seen google ever leave a piece of major software behind and im sure they wont stop now.

    Ahh now I just thought google probaly wants less control on our e

  2. FYPme FYPme

    Bloody phone…. As I was saying. They want less control on our end. We all know for search and ppc goto google first they dont want us leaving their service(expanding to other engines). Who the hell knows anymore.

  3. FTC FTC

    Time to call in my team

  4. From a pure privacy perspective, I seriously think 99% of internet traffic *should* be encrypted. SSL is a good thing.

    But from a marketer’s perspective, I agree with you 100%. Referrer data is valuable and this is going to cause problems for everyone one who uses this data.

    Based on that post you linked to, they don’t mention that you will be able to see referrer data in Google Analytics. For now, it looks like they are only passing this data if you’re running adwords. But I would not be surprised if they make a move like your suggesting. They’re turning out to be worse than Microsoft ever was.

  5. Wow. This sucks. I even created a WordPress plugin for a client that reacted to the referrer keywords, but now we will have to think of what else to do. 🙁

  6. Totally sucks. The person that creates are workaround for this is going to make big bucks. I’m not totally convinced that passing on keyword info is an invasion of privacy. I’m sure there’s a million reasons as to why, but I’m not convinced.

  7. Thanks for the article; it gets me thinking.

  8. People were talking about this, around 1 year back. It never happened though.

  9. so would this mean if you get ssl you would be able to see all of the referral data from google?

  10. I bet Google will offer referrers in their paid analytics solution, and will get away with it.

    My position is based on the fact that they’re still offering referral data for paid search.

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