What is Google Encrypted Search?
Encrypted search was introduced in 2010 to keep the information of logged in users secure. (Gmail and Chrome users, for example) Now that security has been expanded to everyone who searches using Google, at least in the US.
Google says: "When you search on https://www.google.com, an encrypted connection is created between your browser and Google. This secured channel helps protect your search terms and your search results pages from being intercepted by a third party on your network. "
That sounds good to those of us who are wary of sharing our search data with every website we visit. Keyword data will be secure and not passed to site owners. But for the owner of the site this eliminates the ability to track users and segment them by the keywords they used to find it. It's a major blow to marketing tools which help us analyze traffic into the website and direct them to products or services based on keywords they used to get there. Hubspot blogger Pamela Vaughn says marketers may lose all of their keyword based marketing data.
How will we know?
If you've noticed a larger number of visits to your site labeled "organic," "direct," "unknown," or "not provided," that's a sign your starting to see the changes reflected in your traffic. Data collection site NotProvided.com is tracking Google Analytics data from 60 websites including B2B and B2C. The image below shows their tracking of "not provided" keywords on those sites and they predict that these sites may be reporting 100% not provided keywords as early as November 2013.
What about AdWords?
Keyword data will still be passed on to Google AdWords advertisers. So if you're running AdWords on your account you can still get keyword data. Connect Adwords to Analytics and use the data to focus your marketing the way you should have all along anyway, by focusing rich content around the keywords you want to target. People are still going to find your site based on the keywords they enter in a search. You just won't know what hose keywords are.
What else can we do?
Start paying more attention to other search engines like Bing and Yahoo. Users are probably not going to stop using Google as a search engine because Google is no longer giving out their keyword data, but you can still use what other search engines tell you about your website to fine-tune for all search engines.
Run an AdWords campaign so you can use that data to check on your keyword optimization.
Create pages that are rich in content that is relevant to the people who would typically search for it and raising authentic organic content across the board.
Use focused landing pages to help users self-segment and create marketing channels based on what site visitors want.
Create content offers like downloadable white-papers to attract users and use custom landing pages and follow-up emails to channel the right information to those prospects.