Google Announced yesterday that Encrypted or Secure search will be expanded to international Google Domains after a period of testing on Google.com. Is Google “Search Plus Your World” about to be rolled out internationally? Is SEO about to change and will social marketing become a key factor in SEO?
Encrypted Search will unfortunately result in a reduction in recorded search query data, this is all thanks to the SSL or Secure Socket Layer Google has enabled on all logged in searches, not carrying over search query data for organic search results. So how will this affect you?
Google will be introducing encryption to its local domains over the next few weeks, i.e. google.co.uk, google.fr etc. The move is to ensure greater levels of user privacy, allowing user search result pages to be displayed using HTTPs by default. This is obviously great for user privacy but there is a draw back, search query string data is not being transferred from the secure Google search session for a click on an organic listing. This is resulting in a huge increase in “not provided” search query string data within Analytics and third party tools. This is a big blow for Marketers, providing incomplete keyword performance monitoring data, unfortunately not allowing Marketers to accurately gauge keyword performance and influence for logged in Google users. The click will still be identified as coming from “Google” and from an “Organic” source, but the keyword will not be attributed to the click.
Encrypted search was rolled out on Google.com in October 2011, in January it became clear why this had happened, as Google launched “Search Plus Your World” which requires Encrypted search to protect personal user search data which is published directly into a logged in users search results. “Search Plus Your World” incorporates, by default, “Personal Results” from social interactions, which personalises your search based on user behaviour and social connections; this will include content shared with you through your Google+ Social network. Potentially making Google + an essential and influential marketing channel. So as an example if a user was searching for a restaurant in a city and if one or more of the users Google + friends had mentioned a restaurant in the area within their Google + Feed, the results would be incorporated into the users search results. Providing real and potentially trusted experiences from actual people and incorporating their opinions into a Google search. Powerful stuff if it actually works, but the success of this will rely on a proactive network of friends and as yet Google + does not have the reach of networks like Facebook or Twitter.
“The social search algorithm, and the personal search algorithm, and the personalized search algorithm are actually one algorithm now, and we are merging it in a way that is very pleasant and useful,” said Amit Singhal from Google, who oversees Google’s ranking Algorithm in a talk with Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land.
To find out more about “Search Plus Your World” please check out this great article from Danny Sullivan Click Here.
It’s clear to see the influence and importance social content will have as a ranking signal in Google in the future. Google is open to adding social content to the Google “Search Plus Your World” results from Facebook, Twitter and perhaps even more networks. This does potentially mean a complete change to the way search results are served, promoting the opinions of friends from social networks as influencing factors when a user researches a topic. The impact of this on SEO has yet to be fully assessed but it’s clear to see that Social and SEO are now one in the same. Google acknowledges that existing social interactions are monitored and used as a ranking signal within its algorithm, is this the end of SEO as we know it, are we seeing the mainstream birth of Social SEO?
What is assured is a greater focus on Social, SEO, Local, Mobile and multi channel marketing. This will result in marketers needing to demonstrate more effectively campaign success, measuring engagement, interaction, amplification and applause of online marketing campaigns. Understanding the interactions between search and social and utilising SEO to leverage organic ranking.
Gauging Social Search success, conversion and ROI will be the next big challenge for SEO. The growing complexity of a users interaction with a brand or product and the complex multi channel journey a user now takes when interacting with a website will need to be monitored and quantified by marketers. It will be essential to fully understand the interactions of users across multiple channels in order to quantify campaign success and how visitors convert to sales or enquiries.
Encrypted search is just the start, “Search Plus Your World” is coming and potentially marks the dawn of a new search age, providing intuitive and personalised search results where actual friend experiences influence your decision making process. The importance of Mobile and Local search cannot be ignored and their influence will continue to grow as a greater emphasis is placed on more refined and personalised search results. Is this taking search one-step to far, would users rather research to find new information outside of their social circles? Is this a first step towards Serendipitous Search? Only time will tell.