SEO companies and online marketers are abuzz with discussion after Google announced earlier this week that all organic search queries (not those linked to Google ads) will now be encrypted. Google claims it has taken these moves to ultimately ensure user protection and privacy, providing a secure browsing experience.

What is Secure Browsing?

Secure browsing entails the encryption of searches. This means the terms users type into Google that were normally passed on to publishers after someone clicks on their links now get withheld. Google first began to implement secure browsing (only for singed-in users) in October 2011, an action that affected around 10% of global searches.

Despite Google’s initial proclamations that their secure browsing would only cover signed-in activity, the last two years have seen a dramatic decrease of available data. The percentage of keyword referral traffic replaced with “not provided” notation continues to rise.

How Will Secure Browsing Change SEO?

With the new protocol, sites that receive traffic from Google will no longer have access to keywords or search queries that led users to their site. The loss of keyword data will probably cause initial confusion for web publishers who have grown reliant on keyword insights to track user movement and to understand user needs and interests.

The only way to get information on keywords from Google now is through Pay-Per-Click ad campaigns. Whatever Google’s true motivation behind this (most likely selling more ads) the bottom line is that PPC campaigns just became a lot more valuable as information gathering tools to fine-tune an online marketing campaign.

Google’s implementation of secure search will significantly change the way things are done in the world of online marketing. However, this does not spell the end of SEO as we know it. It is important to emphasize that the recent changes by Google only impact organic searches and Google continues to allow access to keywords openly from purchased ads using the Google Adwords and the Pay-Per-Click analytics system.

If a company engages in PPC advertising, they can still access the valuable search query data from a search. All Google has done is heighten the importance of PPC campaigns with this latest development.