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Google to stop giving referral data - by moving to SSL
Donna




msg:4376144
 7:49 pm on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

[googleblog.blogspot.com ]

Is it me or does it means that we no longer will be able to use our server based tracking tools to get google referral data from search ? GA love anyone ?!?! Please correct me that I am wrong.

When you search from https://www.google.com, websites you visit from our organic search listings will still know that you came from Google, but won't receive information about each individual query.


From the look of it for the past couple months Google have officialy declared war on all webmasters.

 

tedster




msg:4376161
 8:04 pm on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

No, I think you're right. By making SSL the service used by signed-in users, the referrer will no longer include the query keywords.

When you search from https://www.google.com, websites you visit from our organic search listings will still know that you came from Google, but won't receive information about each individual query.

They can also receive an aggregated list of the top 1,000 search queries that drove traffic to their site for each of the past 30 days through Google Webmaster Tools.

That will definitely change the ball game.

-----

For now, this only affects signed-in users. The full data will still be available for users who aren't signed in to a Google account. I guess we'll soon get a good idea of how many of our visitors from search are seeing personalized results and how many are not-logged in

netmeg




msg:4376164
 8:08 pm on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

There's some more about this in the analytics forum.

You *do* get the data if you're using AdWords. Imagine that.

< note: here's a link to the Analytics Forum thread: [webmasterworld.com...] >

[edited by: tedster at 8:13 pm (utc) on Oct 18, 2011]

deadsea




msg:4376252
 11:11 pm on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I would firmly categorize this change that is great for users and horrible for webmasters. Too bad I'm both a user and a webmaster. If I were just a user I would love it.

walkman




msg:4376274
 12:09 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

No doubt Google did this to ensure the safety and privacy of their users, something they deeply care about.

By putting users first Google is doing the right thing, even if it means taking a hit on its finances.

scooterdude




msg:4376283
 12:25 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

I fail to see how it protects the user in any material way

What is the nature of threat, or is it a case of Google says they do it,for their users, so everyone else accept it is so ?

As far as I know, ssl forte is protecting confidential transactions or info transmitted over the web

How a web query falls into said category escapes me

What it certainly does is knoble anyone not using Google code for analytics

tedster




msg:4376289
 12:35 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is especially important when you’re using an unsecured Internet connection, such as a WiFi hotspot in an Internet cafe.

That seems to be the main issue - the same thing reported last year when encrypted search first showed up in a small way. There's more snooping going on around known wi-fi hot spots than many people are aware of.

walkman




msg:4376294
 12:43 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

What is the nature of threat, or is it a case of Google says they do it,for their users, so everyone else accept it is so ?

Google is a different kind of company, their corporate culture is do no evil and that runs deep in the company, to borrow the phrase from Eric Schmidt. If this was evil or bad, Googlers would have had self-scrutiny sessions over this.

smithaa02




msg:4376295
 12:43 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Wait...if this blocks the referral field in header requests, this will mess up javascript trackers as well as log trackers like Urchin, right?

I assume then, the only way to get google keyword referral data would be through google analytics?

This is bad...very bad. So what happens when google in the future happens upon their first financial hardship? Do they charge money for this information?

This means A LOT of people will switch to GA because they have no other choice. Bigger GA net means more GA based SERP's (something other search engines won't be able to compete with) and less privacy (if most websites on the internet carry GA google will in essence be able to know what (almost) every single person did on the internet). The NSA and FBI will certainly be happy to know they're reliable partner in google will become even more reliable. A super GA (which will probably result) will also become a prime target for hackers and disgruntled employees...

What happened to google's emphasis on speed (remember that lousy product google instant)? SSL is very slow on slower dialup connections and certainly won't make the internet faster like google is pretending they want.

scooterdude




msg:4376297
 12:46 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

so the guy further down the cafe tables knows someone is looking up "Greek holidays"

if surfer is going to make transaction , they get on ssl secured transaction site

secure web searches ?

Cui bono

scooterdude




msg:4376299
 12:49 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

plus the effect on all the non google advertising agencies who depend on search querystrings to select adverts, nice

walkman




msg:4376304
 12:56 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

plus the effect on all the non google advertising agencies who depend on search querystrings to select adverts, nice
Google is no doubt saddened by this inconvenience that their competitors are going to suffer from.

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.

As I understand it it only applies to non-paid search. So if you buy ads you get statistics. I guess the adword advertisers have promised not to be evil so there's no privacy violations there.

I think we should not focus on questioning Google's motives on this or any other thing, but on the benefits they bring to the world.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4376306
 1:05 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

From the look of it for the past couple months Google have officialy declared war on all webmasters.


I smell a "This site is Google free" movement. I bet if such a site existed and handed out badges to sites that ban googlebot and do not employ any google product it might catch on.

What it would mean to visitors...
- Not being tracked
- Not being shown ads tailored to them by their history
- Seeing sites a whole lot faster without the javascript file slowdowns

etc.

I wonder though, Google knows that the FTC will eventually make a DNT (do not track) law mandatory where regular internet users must either opt in to being tracked OR have a readily accessible "don't track me" button that may even be on by default.

IF that happens all of Google's javascript file data gathering efforts would come crashing down and with them so would the need to have their products on so many websites. When that happens they can, and already are, choose specific sites (trusted, big brand only) to deal with and shut out all the rest.

The days of Google being the best search engine may be near an end too... the FTC has the power to level the playing field apparently.

Leosghost




msg:4376307
 1:15 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Your faith in what the FTC will do is touching..

It took European legislation ( too hard to buy off all the separate countries politicians who get to decide "policy" as opposed to the mega corp Govt of the USA ) to get MicroSoft to calm down..

If G analytics becomes the only way to track keywords I will not be a happy bunny..

If the data is available to adwords users..I might just have to use some of the plastic that they keep shoving in my PO boxes and open multiple accounts ..one per registered business entity..

There are always ways around this kind of crap ..but we really have better things to do than hack ( old school true meaning there) Google..

Maybe they'll make a + account mandatory too ..to save face for Larry :)

smithaa02




msg:4376311
 1:15 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Another worry is if this happens (which will lead to GA being the only source for accurate search term data and in turn GA growing very rapidly in market share in the near term future) that google will use this for negative SEO.

We know from an earlier webmasterworld.com thread that google is using GA for determining SERP penalties: [webmasterworld.com...]

A 'super GA' could be even more dire for webmasters trying to do link building or SEO in general. Could google do an 'audit' on any user that searches for 'link building' or any number of 'bad neighborhood phrases'? Then they go through the sites you visit, the sites you own, etc...? In theory, they would have a lot of information to use for anti-seo if they so wish to use it.

Perhaps one hope is that the Urchin team of google (google bought out Urchin) will squeal that this will mean the end of their service (which they actually sell) and hopefully the left hand of google can stop the right hand from doing too much damage.

deadsea




msg:4376315
 1:31 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Even Google Analytics will not be able to show you referal search terms:
When a signed in user visits your site from an organic Google search, all web analytics services, including Google Analytics, will continue to recognize the visit as Google “organic” search, but will no longer report the query terms that the user searched on to reach your site. [analytics.blogspot.com]


The only place to see search terms will be in web master tools. There will be no way to map visitors to keywords. There will be no way to figure out the conversion rates or user behavior of different keywords.

walkman




msg:4376316
 1:34 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

OMG, just went to twitter and looks like Google has hit a nerve, even those that defended Google's Panda down to the last drop of koolaid are up in arms against this. Maybe because their business has been hit this time. Isn't there a "first they came for ...and I didn't speak up" poem?

Maybe they didn't read Danny Sullivan's excellent piece [searchengineland.com...] on this and his conclusion that this is not that bad, in fact it makes searchers secure or something. So maybe people are overreacting, or Danny would have been up in arms against this too, being impartial and all. Have faith, even if Google does it bad, eventually they might improve on it, soon or later.

[edited by: walkman at 1:36 am (utc) on Oct 19, 2011]

Leosghost




msg:4376317
 1:36 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

WMT..double crap..even more UIs ( that don't stay the same ) to remember..

incrediBILL




msg:4376348
 2:42 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

This will have an impact on AdSense unless they cheat and track the referrer internally as AdSense did (or still does) use the referrer data as part of what decides which ads to display.

Panda also kicked AdSense in the groin, perhaps Google doesn't care about AdSense anymore ;)

yaix2




msg:4376350
 2:48 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

I like it.

If I can still see the best 1000 terms in GWT then nothing is lost anyway. But it means more privacy to individual searchers. Good.

And it kills the business model of the big content farms, as they buy keyword search data to then produce their writeups. G got them at last.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4376353
 2:52 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

They can also receive an aggregated list of the top 1,000 search queries that drove traffic to their site for each of the past 30 days through Google Webmaster Tools.


Google knows why people were tracking keywords outside of GWT by tapping search parameters and they know they aren't giving the same level of detail in GWT.

Do you know all of the keywords that drove traffic to any given page thanks to GWT? No, not all are displayed and it's not broken down that way for you.

Anyway, it won't be difficult to throw an error message now saying "We're sorry, it appears that your logged into a Google account that is interfering with our website, please log out and refresh the page".

Donna




msg:4376356
 3:10 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

I wonder how long it will be before you have to long in to do a basic search.

Samanthatouch




msg:4376359
 3:22 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

I wonder if this is going to affect Chitika search targeted ads? Couldn't find anything about it on their site...

How do Search Targeted Ads work on my page?

Chitika brings search targeted ads off of the search engines and onto your site. We know what search queries users are entering to find your site, so the ads serve directly to their interests.

johnnie




msg:4376372
 4:18 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Boom. A dagger through the heart of web analytics.

incrediBILL




msg:4376374
 4:28 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

To protest everyone could simply bounce all SSL referrals from Google, I dare you ...:)

All talk....

tedster




msg:4376375
 4:30 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's interesting to review the earlier threads we had while Google was developing and testing encrypted search. Here are two, but there are others:

Encrypted Google Search (Beta) Launched [webmasterworld.com] - May 2010

Google Redirected Me to Encrypted Search - Instantly [webmasterworld.com] - Sep 2010

Dinkar




msg:4376407
 7:06 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

To protest everyone could simply bounce all SSL referrals from Google, I dare you ...:)

I will do that. What's the code to put in .htaccess file?

indyank




msg:4376411
 7:22 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

I somehow seem to like this move by Google. There were too many of them tracking websites and their visitors data and this hopefully will make it hard for them...but the prime target is their competition....

johnser




msg:4376425
 8:04 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

If the newer version of GA contains data from WMT,
and if WMT shows top 1,000 KWs,
then can we not run a custom report in GA to cross-match KWs with goals?

Status_203




msg:4376453
 9:32 am on Oct 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Much as I'm a fan of losing the referrer data from a privacy point of view, I'm suspicious of the timing.

Previous G changes that made this happen have been passed off as mistakes but once the big shift to using user behaviour to rank sites starts happening it gets rolled out?

1. Only Google being able to provide some data on searches that led to your site
2. leads to more sites running GA
3. leads to more user behaviour data for Google and less for their competitors
4. leads to better SERPs at Google (if used properly)
5. leads to more searches on Google.
leads to both
6.1 more user data for G and less for competitors (go to step 4)
6.2 more G only referrer data (go to step 1, go directly to step 1, do not pass Go, do not collect $200)

Similarly, if they can collect the user session via adsense - cookies, super-cookies, browser and request footprints - heck they already know you clicked on a link to go to the site after all?
7.1 more user behaviour data for Google and less for their competitors (go to step 4)
7.2 leads to better targeted ads from G, less well targeted from competition.
7.3 leads to more sites using adsense
7.4 leads to more user data for G and less for competitors (sound familiar? go to step 4)

Whether G now actively campaigns on user privacy and the referrer, or is content to sit back and let others do so, the more users who act on privacy concerns the more G ends up as the only one with the data.

Looks like a boil-a-frog method of lock-in to me.

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