Google Secure Search

by Stephen Pitts on December 16, 2012

google secure searchSome two and a half years ago (May 21, 2010), Google introduced encrypted search which they took a step further last year (October 18, 2011) to default logged in users into encrypted search.

This would changed the way we measure organic search moving forward:

What does this mean for sites that receive clicks from Google search results? When you search from, websites you visit from our organic search listings will still know that you came from Google, but won’t receive information about each individual query.
- Official Google Blog

So, Google determined that if you have the keyword referral data for visitors to your site, then others could encroach on your privacy and security. Even though I disagree with this assertion based on this principle and I still believe that Google is using this as leverage against the broader Internet community.

Now, I am not of the mindset that limited data is ever a good thing, but in this circumstance I think it is ideal.

Why Google Secure Search is Good for SEO

It is really difficult to work with partial data because you have to make assumptions (not ideal) to accommodate for the unknown information. Because you only have part of the picture, you might be missing something that is really important.

I know this much more that most as 57% of my traffic comes from natural search of which, some 92% of it is from Google. In the full year following this change, 32% of the traffic from Google ended up as “not provided” making up 18% of the total traffic here. Working with a number of clients, I have yet to see an impact this great, but it has climbed since inception.

So, if I am working on making a decision about my strategy, I am missing almost one third of the picture. However, I still think that this is a positive thing for me and for everyone that is affected by the change.


If a person is logged into a Google account, your search results are being modified by your search history, behavior and even your social network. Now, the search results are also modified based on your location, but this happens if you are logged in or not.

Because search results are being modified, the keyword referral data is tainted, meaning, if you make decisions on your SEO program based on this modified data, you might be making the wrong changes. For once, I think limited access to data is better for your SEO Program.

I would love to hear about your view on the past year of Google SSL Search, feel free to leave comments below!

Tan December 19, 2012 at 2:25 am

Pittfall, yeah I noticed that too, in the top left hand corner, every search I do. I now log out but can’t it be tracked from a person’s IP anyway? Excellent Blog.

flowers December 26, 2012 at 10:30 am

Google says :If you have configured your browser’s search box to send search queries to, you’ll be redirected to https to get your encrypted results, but your query will be initially sent unencrypted.

Glenn Paul January 11, 2013 at 4:36 am

These keywords are shown as (not provided) in Google analytics. However, if you have Google webmaster tools setup for the same website, you can see all the quires for which your website received visits. Visits corresponds to clicks in Google webmaster tools.

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