And just like that, Yahoo changes their search engine tracking overnight.
Ever since Google rapidly increased their secure searches four months ago, there has been a major increase in the "not provided" section of organic search within Google Analytics.
We predicted other search engines may follow suit, and now, one has. SearchEngineLand.com released an update on January 22, 2014 explaining that now Yahoo organic searches are becoming secure searches.
This means that the data that shows which searches brought traffic to your site from Yahoo will now disappear. The main difference between this change and Google's is that instead of the searches being added to "not provided," they will be stripped of all referral data and be added to direct traffic instead. The end result will be having no trace of a Yahoo search term generating a visit.
To explain further, Yahoo is using secure search to show results and when the user clicks on the search result they want, Yahoo is not passing any information on to the targeted site. Therefore, Yahoo's organic search referral would be grouped into direct traffic within Google Analytics from the lack of informaiton being passed on.
Even though the update is primarily in response from the NSA monitoring online activity, this negatively affects marketers with the loss of being able to track Yahoo keyword searches.
Currently, this change has not been made across all of Yahoo. However, Yahoo.com has already switched over to the secure search and from Yahoo's update it appears that this may affect other areas of Yahoo.
We will keep studying this trend among the major search engines as now even Bing has created a secure search site for those who want to use it. It may not be long before Bing completely joins the club, too.
Although this data is very important and useful, it should be noted that still one of the best ways to combat this issue is to create engaging, valuable content that others will want to share. Instead of focusing on keywords, focus on creating great content.