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Google Chrome Set to Encrypt All Searches

Intouch Team

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Google Chrome is implementing changes that will make the job of a search engine marketing professional a little more difficult.

Like Firefox and iOS6, Google Chrome’s most recent update (Chrome 25) will be automatically encrypting all searches from its Omnibox — the box used to type in URLs. Previously, Google’s web browser would encrypt searches sent from the Omnibox ONLY if users were signed in to their Google accounts. However, Chrome 25 will enable this functionality for all browser users, even if they aren’t logged into a Google account. Google is doing this in an effort to protect the privacy of their users, but it is making search engine marketers’ jobs much more difficult.

Currently, our analysts at Intouch are able to see almost all of the keywords a visitor uses to find one of our clients’ sites within Google, which is invaluable information. Analyzing this keyword data allows us to find new opportunities for clients, as well as optimize sites and campaigns to ensure we are driving the best possible traffic at a high volume. Unfortunately, this Chrome update means that more and more of sites’ referring keywords will be coming through in Google Analytics and Omniture as“not provided.” SEO and PPC managers alike are going to have a much more difficult time analyzing their campaigns for trends and opportunites. Focusing on a specific keyword will become increasingly difficult in the future, and we will need to analyze data in a more general sense for any given website or campaign.

Browser Usage And The Impact On Pharma

According to the W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium), a highly authoritative figure in the Web industry, Google Chrome accounted for 46.9% of total browser usage in December 2012. This number has been climbing rapidly, up 11.6% from the previous year. The pharma industry doesn’t have a lot to worry about, though. It won’t be hit as hard as the rest of the Web with this Chrome update.

    Web sites that Intouch manage have an average Chrome usage of 16%, which is miles below the current Web average.
This is probably due to the fact that a large portion of pharmaceutical sites target an older age demographic (45-65+), who don’t typically use Google’s browser. The graph below shows the trend of Chrome usage by age in orange.

There is clearly lower usage of Chrome across the older demographic. This could be due to many factors, but the most obvious is that older generations, being less tech-savvy, are less likely to install additional browsers different from the one that is shipped with their computer’s operating system. In all likelihood, their default browser is Internet Explorer. Additionally, we can see that Internet Explorer (blue line) is by far the dominant browser among people 35 years and older, meaning keyword data can still be extracted and analyzed from more than 80% of site visitors. The chart above is consistent with Intouch’s investigation into our healthcare clients’ web properties, though harvesting information on Chrome demographics was somewhat difficult.

Long-Term Implications

All in all, this new Chrome update will have an impact on pharma company sites. However, the impact won’t be as serious as the rest of the Web. Using Chrome’s current growth rate and its average usage trend across pharma websites, we can estimate that, by December 2014, around 25% of keywords will be coming through as “not provided.” Sites and brands targeting people 45 years and older will not be affected as much as sites targeting a younger age demographic. The most impact will be felt by sites targeting 20—35-year-olds. Intouch will continue to monitor and report on Chrome usage and unprovided keywords as Google rolls out the new update.

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