From now if you are logged in and searching through Google.com, you will be using SSL search. This change would not have gotten much attention if it was not for one detail: Clicking on organic listings won’t pass on keyword referral data to the sites you visit. Unless you click on a paid ad of course, after all even privacy needs to have limits. Search referral information is valuable, and there is no reason to give it away, at least not for free. Unsurprisingly this has gotten a bit of a reaction from the SEO community, with responses ranging from conspiracy theories and general proclaimations of doom, to some old fashioned pointing and laughing.
Matt Cutts’ informal estimate about the percentage of searches done signed through Google.com has been referred to and discussed to death as well. Even if the figure is taken at face value, it is probably not all that useful for judgung the long term impact of this change. The thing is that many of Google’s popular services, including Google+, seem to work better when you are signed in. Even if Google+ fails to become the Facebook killer everyone seems to be waiting for, it will probably still lead to more people using Google while logged in. I would expect more people will be searching while logged in rather then less over time, and SSL search becoming the norm on more than just Google.com.
But don’t worry too much, at least Google has made Webmaster tools query data available in Google Analytics, I am sure that will be just as good. I also hear that diversification is a concept that can work with online marketing too.