SSL May Affect Google Rankings

There appears to be even more steps towards killing the ability to properly track SEO analytics. According to a new report that popped up on the Wall Street Journal, Google Head of Spam Matt Cutts is hoping that Google will allow him to give better rankings to websites with SSL certificates (an https address instead of just http). That simple change in the algorithm can not only be more costly for site owners, it may cause some problems with keyword research.

With the current Heartbleed debacle, Google may very well decide to side with Matt with his suggestion now that his “opinion” has legs and a verifiable exploit to prove its value. However, if your website doesn’t sell products or collect customer information, will the benefits be perceptual or will there truly be a disadvantage not to have it regardless?

Additionally, SSL has notoriously caused problems with properly tracking some pieces of analytical data and most importantly keywords. Yahoo! recently made the SSL jump and lost more than half of their documented traffic as it got pigeonholed as Direct traffic and not attributed to Yahoo. They’ve made some adjustments to fix the problem, but will the average website owner be able to properly capture that data when they suffer the same fate?

Only time will tell what will happen in this nuance if and when it occurs, but we’ve heard from some sources that Google already has pieces of their algorithm that focuses on the presence of an SSL and views is as an authority piece since websites with secure socket layers are less likely to be fly by night.

While an SSL certificate only runs about $50 a year, is it still fair to give websites that have them a ranking advantage?  All being equal, if your site doesn’t collect data from customers, should a competitor that does collect names and emails have an advantage over you simply because they have an SSL certificate?

What are your thoughts? Concerned, relieved, or ticked?

SSL Direct Traffic




Google Chrome To Cloud Keyword Research

Chrome Hides Keywords

As the browser wars continue, Google Chrome begins to take more of a share away from Internet Explorer, but the latest announcement that Google searches done via Chrome would utilize SSL layers has many SEO pundits up in arms.

According to the Chromium Blog, this change will hit with Chrome 25 which is currently in development and it will occur with both users who are signed in to Google and now with users who are not signed in to Google. To be fair, all browsers have implemented this action and most have been utilizing it for over a year now. The change protects users from information being seen by anyone malicious who might be trying to intercept their queries and use them accordingly. Once the newest version of Chrome hits the market, it’s affect on keyword research could take a nasty hit.

The problem that this creates is that it hides the keyword the person used from analytics programs, so instead of being able to see what the person is searching for, the keyword is shown as simply “not set” or “keyword not provided” since the data is hidden and not passed on after the click. Since a majority of searches are done via Google, this will make it increasingly difficult to analyze what keywords are working and which aren’t.

Keyword Research

It’s said that Google Analytics shouldn’t take too much of a hit, but we found completely otherwise in our research with “not provided” showing up more than any others and increasing every month.  Some report double digit increases every quarter.  As for external programs such as IBPWebtrendsSAS and others will become less dominant in that field making any keyword research data culled from Google searches useless. And what choice do the other search providers like Yahoo! and Bing have but to also follow the same trend or be seen as “not secure” and for the most part, they have already followed suit.

It’s hard to argue against user security, but it will make the task of keyword research even more difficult to pinpoint when trying to assess what works and what doesn’t.  How are you planning to accommodate for this change in your keyword research strategy or will this even affect you at all?