Online gift retailer Prezzybox has seen 16% of natural search traffic affected by Google’s keyword referral encryption since its UK rollout.
The percentage is the highest figure yet reported to new media age, following those seen by national and regional publishers and media agencies (nma.co.uk 3 May 2012).
Google started integrating encryption protocol Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to natural searches in the UK as part of its strategy to bolster privacy and security for consumers. SSL hides the keyword referrals from searches made when a user is logged-in to a Google account, such as Gmail, Google+ or AdWords.
Prezzybox MD Zak Edwards (pictured above, right) told new media age the retailer expects this figure to continue growing, and could potentially reach 25-30% by the end of the year if Google succeeds in driving uptake of Google +.
“It’s scary because if you look at your traffic sources around ten of the top 15 keywords you can’t see what they are as are not provided. It is causing us issues because a year ago we knew exactly what terms we needed to focus on, and now we don’t. Most of our traffic is from a term that’s not provided where we rank first, but I don’t know what the term is,” he said.
Edwards believes the move could prove advantageous for rival search engine Bing. “As a retailer all our eggs, from a search perspective, are in one basket, and that is a bad position to be in. But if Google does anything to alienate SEO agencies and retailers it could prove beneficial for Bing,” he said.
Agencies have previously voiced concerns that Google’s SEO encryption could spread to other browsers, following the news that not-for-profit browser maker Mozilla will roll out default encrypted Google searches for all Firefox browsers, the latter of which has a 16% share, according to Nielsen (nma.co.uk 2 April 2012).
Edwards agreed the issue could become more “alarming” if other browsers follow suit. “As a gift retailer we optimise for gift products and categories and occasions, and there are only so many occasions - so even if all our top ten terms were not provided we could take a pretty educated guess there will be lots of Fathers’ Day traffic for example. But how will a retailer like Amazon see what traffic. It will ultimately lead to a lot of guesswork, which contradicts what the benefit of working online, as opposed to offline, has always been - being able to track everything,” he added.