It happened quietly when implemented last September, and was announced publicly last October.
In summary, encrypted search gives Google users better privacy and security doing searches while logged into a Google account.
Our standard for evaluating website visitor behavior has been StatCounter, and clients who review visitor referrals on a regular basis may be disappointed by the lack of details.
Recently, StatCounter has been sending email notices to users with information about the lack of details including phrase searched to arrive on their site.
For example, site owners want to know what search phrase people put in Google search to be shown in search results. Prior to last September you could see the actual phrase, and follow the referral link to see the Google search page and placement in results.
The landing page still provides a clue. There are other valuable options to review in StatCounter like Search Engine Wars, Popular Pages, and Return Visitors.
Here’s the official explanation from Google about this major algorithm change, and a link to more details.
Google Search uses SSL to encrypt the connection between your computer and Google to help prevent intermediary parties, like internet cafes, ISPs, and wifi hotspots, from intercepting or interfering with your search activities. For supported browsers, Google may use this option by default. Source: Making Search More Secure, Google.com
Our advice for tracking website visitor behavior is don’t get hung up on statistics.
More importantly, focus on providing a positive user experience with high quality content and an obvious call to action. Give visitors a reason and motivation to explore your site and contact you.
Encrypted search results for this site are currently 87% of all data out of the last 100 visits today.
Curious about where you site lands in search results for your key phrases? Go to Google.com and perform each search and find your position.
Your ranking will depend on many factors. Your product or service and market, plus the number of competitors are key factors. Study page one results, and then develop a plan and strategy to improve your position.
The impact of Google encrypted search and the effect on stats means site owners need to refocus.
Focus more on giving site visitors a positive experience, and summarized as follows.
High quality original content is a must. Being active on social sites is highly recommended. A mobile friendly website is more vital now than ever, as well.