In October of 2011 the search king Google went secure.
In 2012 – 2013 Safari, Mozilla, and Bing did the same.
In January 2014 Yahoo finally joined the club to make 99% of the worlds digital information completely secure.
Well, that’s awesome! But not for SEO’s. Secure searches mean keyword data, referral data go out the door and that leaves us in the dark with a flash light trying to find our way. With Yahoo going secure they’ve taken away our batteries and now we only have an empty tool to defend ourselves. Nevertheless we will prevail!
I work for an enterprise level ecommerce website and the news of losing data comes at a large loss. It’s hard because our SEO numbers have been on the uptrend without paying much attention to Yahoo.
So why does this matter you ask?
Well ~6% of our traffic comes from Yahoo and with the new secure search, our Yahoo referral data will become direct load (according to omniture). In short direct load is someone coming directly onto our website without coming through any type of marketing channel. So that box in your web browser, someone types in the exact domain address, that equals direct load.
This means we lose 6% of our SEO traffic to direct load by the time Yahoo goes 100% secure (which is aimed at March 2014). The problem is with high level reporting direct load is such a large number that 6% of our traffic attributed to it doesn’t look like much of a dent. When you get more granular you notice a little dip in our allocated traffic which might not look to good.
It’s ok don’t panic. I’ve got a solution.
And I found it on Danny Sullivan’s post on searchengineland.com here I knew about most of the information before getting this article but there was one quote/tweet thread I read that I found very useful.
By the way, when it comes to searches that lead to secure servers, Yahoo appears to be following standard protocol and passing along full-referrers. However, as most sites are not secure sites, most publishers won’t receive this information.
Bam. There it is. By making your website secure itself (https) Yahoo will pass referral data because it follows standard secure server protocol’s. The twitter thread that explains most of it is located here.
So there you have it. search referral data becoming direct load can be offset by making your own website secure. Might even be some good PR around it (that’s a shout out to my old manager) 🙂