Is the SSL issue getting bigger

by Peter Young on August 15, 2012 · 1 comment

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked if I fancied being involved in a piece on SSL search for the NMA, something for which I had to pull together a fair bit of research as part of the piece. With Firefox 14 now encrypting searches by default, the volume of secured search queries is expected to rise significantly again as we see Firefox users migrate to the new product.

More worryingly for SEO’s Internet Explorer are expected to turn on DNT (Do not Track) by default for Windows 8/Internet Explorer 10 – which could have a significant impact on both SEO and the wider channel mixes as conversion/behavioural data is compromised yet further.

All this points to challenging times ahead for advertisers and SEO’s in particular. In the data sampled across just short of 20 clients, we saw the % of ‘not provided’ queries has risen significantly since March last year, with certain sectors seeing double double growth. Given that not provided queries accounted for around 2% of searches back in February – and around 8-10% in March its significant that many of those sampled now account for 15% of all searches.

Thats a significant figure when one considers that most mobile queries are not impacted as yet by the move to SSL based search on many desktop platforms. Across the majority of devices tested and certainly for Apple IPod/IPads data continues to be unencrpyted. One would only suggest this is a matter of time before this door swings shut.

However its the potential impact of IE10 that I feel could really throw the cat amongst the pigeons. At present IE is in decline as users move towards other browsers such as Firefox and in particular Google’s Chrome browser. THat said it still accounts for a significant proportion of the market – one and certainly higher in certain demographics such as ‘Silver Surfers’. If as expected IE 10 turn DNT on by default this could significantly increase the amount of ‘unaccounted data’ for advertisers. DNT is a feature allowing web surfers to opt out of being tracked by online advertisers and web sites as well as analytics services that they do not visit. Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera all support DNT so this is something that may well increase in take up in the future

For SEO’s this presents a significant challenge in terms of providing accountable metrics for clients and peers alike. Provided data is still significantly in the majority however as uptake of Google+ in particular continues to increase – we are likely to see the impact of this become even greater. As such, modelled data, or content based metrics may see a significant increase in popularity as people move towards ensuring accountable data backs up business decisions as simply winging it isn’t really an issue.

This isn’t likely to be the end of the journey – more of the tip of the iceberg. What lurks beneath is in all likelihood still waiting to be played out.

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