In October, Parse.ly ran a study on the amount of “dark” search Google was sending to publishing websites. The SEO world was, understandably, shaken up by the news. There was a silver lining for publishers though: because news websites are in the business of creating relevant content on a continuous basis, they weren’t as hard hit as some businesses that relied on SEO for customer acquisition (like this case of Tutorspree).
That doesn’t mean news websites don’t need to know how their search traffic is doing. And now, another thorn in the side of SEO has sprung up. Yahoo is moving to secure search by default, which means that the referral will be considered “Direct” traffic. Sites will only be able to see that their readers came from any Yahoo property if their search directs them to another secure site (Any page with an https:// in the URL).
Why is Yahoo doing this? Marissa Mayer cites the need for protecting user’s privacy, in the wake of NSA scandals and government hacking into personal search terms.
And if you’re wondering how much time you have to react to these changes, history indicates not much. Our tracking of Google’s dark search showed that dark search traffic jumped from 50% to over 80% in 3 months time.