Sunday, February 16, 2014

Fighting the Secure Search Battle

Digital marketers have become accustomed to no longer being able to receive complete search term data. Google became the first to secure their search data with their announcement that all signed-in users would be secured in October of 2011. Now more than two years later, Yahoo has announced that they will follow Google’s lead and make Yahoo searches secure, causing digital marketers to once again scramble for ways to gain access to their keywords.   


The Google empire completed the full transition in September of 2013 as they confirmed that all searches would be secure by default.  What this means is that instead of seeing the individual keyword or searched term in your analytics tool, you will see the phrase “not provided.”  Marketers will know that a search happened but be unaware of the exact term used to bring the visitor to the site.

No Referrer with Yahoo

Yahoo is planning to fully shift to secure searches by March 31st, 2014. Like Google, all searches will be done through a secure server.  Unlike Google, there will be no “not provided” term in your analytics. Yahoo will not be sharing any information at all.  All data driven from Yahoo will appear as though the visitor came directly to the site. The No Referrer policy will make it difficult for the analysts and digital marketer to differentiate between a Yahoo search and a direct visit.

Optional Secure Search at Bing

Bing continues to be that friend not willing to rock the boat. Bing still wants your friendship.  In January, Bing officially launched secure search though it has been turned off by default.  Digital marketers will continue to receive their Bing keywords for the time being.

If or when the user decides to turn on secure search with Bing, the data will appear similar to Yahoo's with a No Referrer policy. 

Tips on How to Fight the Secure Search Battle 
  1.  Use Bing.  Even though Bing may only represent a small portion of your organic search volume, it can provide insight into visitor behavior and give you search term data.
  2. Google Analytics may not provide specific keyword info, but Google Webmaster tools may still provide what you need.  Experiment with the Search Queries report and you may be pleasantly surprised with what you find!
  3. Use Google Adwords. Though Google claims that it has transitioned to secure search for security purposes, the keyword data can still be bought through Google Adwords.
  4. Use site searches to understand what users are searching for on your site. You can receive valuable insights on potential keywords by tracking what users are searching for within your site.
  5. Don’t worry and be patient. Mastermind search marketers will find ways to get our keywords back. Continue to stay updated with industry news and notes as valuable information is released and tools are developed.