Google for Business or Google for Privacy?
On October 18, Google announced that in an effort to increase privacy, they will begin using an encrypted SSL default search engine setting for anyone with a Google account. These users automatically default to the new https address that features encrypted queries.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is an internet protocol that ensures security online. On sites that require fidelity (email sites, instant messaging sites, online shopping sites and group buying sites), the “s” in “https” encrypts the information between user and company, making it difficult for third parties to intercept personal information. Google cites the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “HTTPS Everywhere” initiative as a positive endeavor to protect internet users’ privacies.
But, the SSL default setting has different implications for individuals than it does for businesses.
For individuals, it does uphold the standards of privacy. Privacy has been a long-fought battle for internet users, and when it comes to privacy protection, this is a monumental step in the right direction. SSL will prevent businesses from seeing the search query that brought the user to their site. The organic click will field no results about keywords, either.
Businesses will be able to receive a list of the top 1,000 search queries that garnered traffic for each day of the past month. However, inbound marketers and SEO specialists will lose significant value because vital data will no longer be made available to them.
This has created controversy for search engine optimizers and marketers who see Google’s policy change as a conflict of interest. Google will still release data to businesses that pay for ads and have organic clicks on those sponsored ads. This gives page placement and data to businesses who can afford it and nothing to those who cannot.
In reality, the percent of those logged in to Google accounts is low when compared to the percent of users who browse Google with no login. All data has not immediately been compromised. However, this policy change marks what could become a trend in social media sites. Facebook and Twitter have already begun switching their sites to become encrypted. This could indicate a future of no referrals, or queried terms from search engines.
How do Google's policy changes affect your perception of SEO?