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Safari Makes Google Searches Encrypted, Distorts Analytics

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Safari Makes Google Searches Encrypted, Distorts Analytics
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Mobile Google searches are more secure from Safari on iOS 6 than they were in previous versions of iOS or from other mobile browsers. Apple is reportedly routing Google searches through the SSL version of Google, which Google made the default experience for signed in users from the desktop last year.

This makes searching more secure, and ncreases privacy. At the same time, it distorts analytics data. When Google turned it on for the desktop, it turned keyword data in Google Analytics to “not provided”. With Apple’s version, it’s just making search traffic count as “direct”. In other words, if someone gets to your site by searching Google from the search box in Apple’s latest version of Safari, it will look like they just went to your site directly instead of finding it through a search. Your search traffic may seem down, and your direct visitors may seem up.

Danny Sullivan explains the situation in great detail at Search Engine Land, where he shares a statement from Google, who says:

If you go to google.com on most mobile web browsers today, you don’t get SSL. Currently there’s significantly more latency for SSL connections on mobile devices that we believe creates a poor user experience, so we’re looking into the best way to make HTTPS connections faster on mobile devices. That’s why we don’t yet show personal results on mobile, either.

For now, SSL Search on desktop continues to be a leader for offering more secure searches, which other major search engines don’t offer in any form.

For the web browser on iOS 6 with SSL on by default, our web servers don’t yet take that fact into account. We’re investigating different options to address this issue.

It will be interesting to see what Google’s solution is. Will the company find a way around Apple’s increased privacy? Would they want to do something involving Safari that somehow decreases user privacy after being handed the largest fine for a single company in FTC history over Safari-related privacy issues?

Also, Google seems to consider “poor user experience” the problem with doing SSL search on mobile itself. If this is the case, where are all of the complaints about the “poor user experience” from the Safari search box? I can’t say I’ve heard any.

Safari Makes Google Searches Encrypted, Distorts Analytics
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  • http://www.findalbany.com Chase

    That’s what I thought but hadn’t gotten around to watching the keynote yet. I had been seeing tons of direct visits from iOS visitors on websites I manage. So, no more keyword referrals for webmasters from loggin-in Google users, FF, and now most iPhone users. Interesting.

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