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When it launched late last year, secure search from Google was quickly defended by its creators. We were told it would only ever account for single digit figures in the keyword stats.  Unfortunately, this didn’t prove to be true.

In fact, within a few days, users State side were finding Google’s damage control claims to be false.¹

Whereas once you could see what a user had typed in to get to your site, and this was then counted to reflect your site’s most popular keywords, a new kid was on the block…

An Unwelcome Entry In Keyword Stats

Figures reiterated quite often on blogs, forums and in tweets suggest that some 20% of their keyword traffic is hidden behind secure search (when a person is signed into their Google account and searching the web).

The question is, could your business afford to not know what 20% – 40% were searching for, when they use the world’s most popular search engine to find a product, or a service?

I say 20% – 40% as there’s more bad news on the way…


Further Doom and Gloom

Unfortunately, as of Firefox 14, anybody using Google will be treated to secure search too.² At least that’s what Mozilla are currently planning. As with most modern browsers, the inbuilt  auto update feature means it won’t be long before users are upgraded to the latest version either.

Firefox is the browser of choice for 17% of the UK’s internet users. That’s effectively another 17% to discount from your organic keyword data.³

There Is A Way To Get Round It

Those with Analytics access can be a little savvy though.

Look up your top landing pages stats, with the keywords filter added, and it’ll be a reasonably straight forward way to guess what sort of keyword people used to get to that page, based around what the page’s title tag, meta description and H1 is optimised for.

In addition, Google still provide full keyword data to their Adwords customers:

“If you choose to click on an ad appearing on our search results page, your browser will continue to send the relevant query over the network to enable advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and to improve the ads and offers they present to you.”

Where’s the privacy in that? The answer is, there is none, and that’s why people are frustrated with the latest tactic from Google to seemingly increase their annual turnover.

If you still don’t believe that Google is being increasingly money conscious, consider this: Google only this week released a report stating that those who rank number one organically (SEO), will enjoy double the traffic with a paid Adwords listing (PPC)⁵. Quite a convincing claim.

Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

Changes are happening in search. It’d be wise to buckle down; it looks to be a bumpy ride. As highlighted above, where keyword traffic is concerned, in one short BING they could be gone, just like that.


Posted 05/04/2012


  • P Heston

    Of course, you’re presuming that google users are looking for “products and services”. Actually, the hijacking of the web as an information source by advertisers of products and services that I wasn’t looking for is exactly why I have zero empathy with this article. These days you almost have to ignore the first few pages of search results before you find what you’re actually looking for.

    Sure, if I’m *looking* for products and services, then I’m going to use, you know, words that describe that product or service. You should know what they are. They describe your product or service. If you focus on providing relevant content rather than SEO algorithm gameplay, then I’m far more likely to visit (and, crucially, revisit) sites that I find *useful*.

    And I’ll find useful sites regardless of anything SEO can deliver.

    • I appreciate your sentiment, and it’s true that relevant content rules the day. However, at this stage in the game, without proper optimisation any writer will be missing out on readership, relevant or not.

      If nobody did SEO, the search results would be the level playing field you allude to (Google bias aside). But what of the users searching and missing out on the forum discussion/how to/product/service on the grounds that the content wasn’t easily identifiable to the search engine in the first place? Decent SEO has it’s place.

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