Ok, this is big news all you Personyze users out there should read. In the past month, Google quietly made a change aimed at encrypting a large portion of their search activity — except for clicks on ads (important note). Google says this has been done to provide “extra protection” for searchers. However the implication to the entire online optimization industry in general and to website personalization provides such as Personyze are of course quite noticeable.
Some background: Two Years Ago: Secure Searching For Logged-In Users was introduced
In October 2011, Google began encrypting searches for anyone who was logged into Google. The reason given was privacy. Google said it wanted to block anyone who might potentially be eavesdropping on a string of searches made by an individual and also prevent the actual search terms themselves from being seen by publishers, as some of them might be too “private” to reveal.
This Month: Secure Searching in Google Being Made Default For Everyone
Now, Google has flipped on encryption for people who aren’t even signed-in. When asked about this last week by Danny Sullivan from searchengineland.com, Google confirmed the shift, saying:
“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.”
A Very Sudden Change
One key question is “Why so suddenly?,” what prompted Google to make such a change out of the blue. And it was sudden.
When searches are encrypted, search terms that are normally passed along to publishers (and analytics systems such as Personyze or Google Analytics) after someone clicks on their links at Google get withheld and appears in the analytics system as “not provided”. Thus, also preventing, to some extent, a system such as Personyze to be able to target visitors based on their searched keyword for such secure traffic arriving from Google.
Over the past two years, the percentage of search terms as “not provided” has increased gradually, but not a giant leap in “not provided” activity. But in the past month, the increased encryption on Google’s side has produced a dramatic spike: from about 25% of all searches just a month ago, to about 75% of all searches today!!
While there are many speculations as to why Google initiated such as dramatic move (ranging from blocking NSA tracking to increasing ad sales), what we at Personyze, and our users, care about more than all is what happens next?
What happens next? What Personyze users should know?
Seeing that this move by Google has affected the whole industry, one first needs to know what are the limitations and what can be done to possibly limit them.
- Such changes are currently relevant to search arriving from Google. Bing, Yahoo and other search providers operate their search normally
- For “Paid Search” in Google, there is still a way you could grab the searched keyword in the landing page of the campaign. It is done by placing a special parameter in the landing page “utm_keyword” that is populated with the searched keyword. Please contact our support team should you have any question regarding how to set up and configure such parameter
As this entire move by Google was not properly announced, there is still some uncertainty regarding the details. This is why we at Personyze have reached out to Google with some questions. We shall update this post as soon as such answers arrive.