rlange - 10:14 pm on Mar 20, 2012 (gmt 0)
First article I found about this: [webanalyticsland.com...]
Does this mean we have to modify our pages just for G - again?!
No; this looks like it's something Google will be implementing on their SERPs.
Presumably the extra loading caused by SSL is causing their servers to slow down? If so, how do they suddenly get away with no redirect, if they redirected before? Do they plant cookies on a browser?
I believe they're currently redirecting clicks through their server, which strips out the search query in the Referer header and then redirects the user. This will instruct browsers that support meta referrers to automatically set the referrer to the "origin" (e.g. "https://www.google.com/") and allow Google to skip the redirect.
(Slow down Google's servers, though? Not very likely.)
I further read it that the referer used does not include any reference to it being a basic G search querystring.
Pretty much. Once this is implemented, all you'll get from anyone using a browser that supports meta referrers is "https://www.google.com/" or "https://www.google.co.uk", etc.
Apparently Chrome is the only browser that currently supports this feature, but I wouldn't be surprised if Google modifies their redirect to match what the meta referrer tag provides.
That would mean all logged in searches would only send, essentially, the domain name as the referrer. I think most web analytics software won't even be able to distinguish a "search referral" from a regular referral in this case. That seems... unfortunate.