On the 18th October, Google announced a key change to its default search experience for signed-in users. Evelyn Kao, Product Manager at Google, says ‘As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, we recognize the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results we [Google] deliver.’

The change will encrypt search queries and Google’s results page. Evelyn Kao explains what this means for those using the popular service, ‘When you search from Google, 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.’

Graham Charlton, Editor of the Econsultancy blog, says ‘Sites will no longer receive referral data from these searches. This referral data, which reveals the organic search terms which led visitors to a particular webpage, is vital in assessing the performance of keywords, optimising landing pages and more.’

Google has justified this change based on privacy grounds, using people accessing wi-fi networks in public places as an example. Referral data from paid search ads will still be available, whether the user is logged in or not, which has caused quite a stir within the industry.

James Royce, Mackman’s Digital Services Manager, heads up the SEO team for the Group and says, ‘We monitor each of our SEO client’s sites and search results very closely. It’s still early days since the change, but at the moment it is estimated that it will impact less than 10% of traffic. Our analytics process shows the volume of traffic, and the amount of withheld key word data so if the situation changes, we’re in a good position to take action.’

Read Google’s full blog post about the change to its search services here.