Earlier this week, Google took one more step in the movement towards online privacy and security by rolling out a revised default experience for signed-in users.  Searchers will now be redirected to the https (vs. http) search page when logged in to their Google Account, allowing for a more secure search environment.

If you’re aiming to look smart at the lunch table, this essentially means that all searches will now be encrypted, and therefore all data travelling between your browser and their servers will be protected from third party snoopers.  This is especially important when you’re using an unsecured connection, think WiFI hotspot or café.

So what does that mean for websites?  It means that the websites you visit from the organic (meaning not paid) section of the Google returned results will still know you came from Google.  However those websites will no longer have access to the specific search query you typed in order to find that organic listing.  Websites however can receive an aggregated list of the top 1,000 search queries that drove traffic to their site, but only through using Google’s reporting tool – Google Analytics.

OK, so what does THAT mean?  Is this Google’s latest attempt to control the search engine world (which of course has implications into almost every aspect of our lives)?  Or is this an honest attempt to rid the world of evil SEO practitioners, thus giving users a clean and safe space to search?

Think about it.  We as humans continue to put more and more and more information out on the web, but at the same time our expectations for results continue to climb.  We declare where we are, who we’re with, what we just purchased, events we’re going to attend, even pictures – with appropriate tags – of the food we’re about to eat.  We put all of this out there for, as I see it, two reasons.

  1. Primary:  So that other users see it.  To validate ourselves amongst the social universe.
  2. Secondary:   So that businesses/commerce platforms/search engines see it.  Although I can’t imagine many of us actively put personal content out there in an attempt to refine the ads we are served, we absolutely expect our online experience to be customized to the type of digital consumers we are.

So not only do we want our cake and the ability to eat it, we want our search engines to remember the exact type of cake we like, the last time we ate that cake, where we purchased our favorite cake, recommendations on cheaper places to buy that cake, as well as how we typically misspell our favorite brand of cake.  Any imperfect touch points within that digital cake experience (such as a link that promises wonderful cake, when in fact they only have cookies), and who do we blame?  We blame Google.  We hold them to the highest standard, while continuing to dump more and more content on them to “search” through.

I therefore do not see this as another step towards monopoly, but rather as an effort to keep up with user expectations.  Google had to make this change.  Without saying it, we demanded it.  They had to take the next step.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t be Google.

Photo Credit: http://indiancreekwebdesign.wordpress.com/