How To Get Referrer Data From Google's SSL Search

Oh, you have to love the web… the stunningly intelligent conversations, the half-informed speculation, I mean… what’s not to love?

The latest “semi-true” story involves Google’s rollout of a (beta) SSL version of their search engine.

The Marketerati (not a real word) are up in arms, because when you use a secure site (like Google’s new SSL search), your browser won’t pass referrer data on to any non-secure sites that you visit from the search result page.

What this means, is that your non-secure site won’t get any data from Google Analytics on what keywords searchers used when they come to your site from the secure version of Google search.

Oh, Noes!! It’s the death of analytics, and the end of SEO as we know it… or is it?

Well, no. Actually, it’s not the end of the world – even if Google turns on SSL search by default.

Why isn’t it the end of the world?

Well, for the simple reason that you can still get the referral data, including those precious search terms.

Here. Look:

Referring keywords from Google SSL search appearing in Google Analytics

"Good News, Everyone!"

That’s a screen capture from Google Analytics. It shows a search query that I typed into Google’s SSL search. The page I clicked through to is on our secure (HTTPS/SSL) subdomain.

Yep. There you have it – keywords. From SSL search… but how is this even possible? Didn’t the Marketerati tell me SSL search was the death of analytics? (Yes, they did.)

You see, although browsers don’t send referrer data when you click from an encrypted/secure (HTTPS/SSL) page to an unencrypted/insecure (HTTP) page… they do send that data when you go from one secure page to another.

So if Google ever goes SSL by default, so will the rest of us… and the web will be a safer place. With keywords.

(Yes, browser developers could change the way browsers behave. They could also stop sending referrer data in all contexts, by default, which would really be the death of analytics*.)

*Except, of course, that many of your visitors already send no referral data, thanks to privacy settings/software and firewalls and whatnot… and I’d wager there are more people using Norton or Symantec or McAfee’s referral-stripping software right now, than there are using SSL search. The world is still here, and you still rely on your analytics data to make decisions.

A sneak peek at my new PPC Course…

My new PPC course is all finished… let me know what you think!

The video below is the introductory module – there are several others, but this one alone should give you plenty to think about unless you’re already a real Adwords expert.

If you’ve been around for a while, you probably know how long I’ve been preaching and teaching about the power of paid search, but this is my first new pay per click training program in over 3 years… just in time for you to take advantage of some recent pro-advertiser changes at Google and elsewhere.

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Free Webinar: The 3 Things Most SEOs Get Wrong

Leslie Rohde and I have been working together as StomperNet faculty members since, well, since we were asked to join as the first two members of the faculty, back in 2006.

Last month, at StomperNet’s “Live 8″ seminar, we did a 90-minute presentation from the stage along with Jerry West, where we answered the worst, messiest, toughest questions submitted by the attendees.

The questions were great, and the answers were sometimes hilarious. But there are a few important questions that deserved a follow-up with more detailed responses.

This Wednesday, September, 16th, Leslie and I will be holding a free follow-up webinar called:

The 3 things most SEOs get wrong… and how to get ‘em right!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009 @ 6pm Eastern (US)
Register at http://dan.seobraintrust.com

After you register, we’ll give you immediate access to both the “SEO Triple Threat” video recording, as well as my Day 3 closing keynote, “the six things you must know to survive online marketing.

What’s the SEO BrainTrust? We’ll let you know Wednesday evening.

Thanks!
Dan

PS – The SEO BrainTrust is now live and open for new members – click here to learn more and sign up.

Coming to my free webinar next week?

In my last email to my newsletter subscribers, I mentioned that Andy Jenkins and I are starting up a new Mastermind training program for information marketers, called the “Guru Therapy Institute.”

We’re doing a free kickoff webinar next Tuesday at 6pm Eastern (US), and since a lot of readers are in the information business in some form or fashion, I hope you’ll be able to join us.

Truthfully, a lot of the information will be useful to anyone who considers themselves an entrepreneur.

I’ve known Andy since 2004, when I was invited to speak at a 2-day live training for the “Stomping the Search Engines” Apprentice program – which was very similar to the Guru Therapy program that we’re starting up now.

When I met Andy, he was wearing… a kimono. I should have known that we’d become good friends, especially when I saw the passion that he brings to his work.

Fast forward to 2006, and it was an easy decision when he asked me and Leslie Rohde to join him in StomperNet as the first two faculty members.

I’ve learned a lot over the past few years by working with Andy, participating in the “re-engineering” of the company, and getting a chance to “mastermind” with the other faculty members. I doubt that I’d be where I am today, and capable of doing what I am doing now, if I’d kept on going it alone.

The truth is that I *need* other people in order to do what I do.

Spending time with smart and successful people is probably the #1 reason why I can create the kind of content that I create, and why I can help other people become successful. Guru Therapy is an extension of that.

Anyway, about the webinar:

First of all, we’re covering six big topics, and I applied an amazing technique called the “Tom Sawyer Okie-Doke” to get Andy to cover four of them. Okay, all I really did was complain about how busy I was this week and he stepped up.

So you’ll hear quite a bit from Andy on “his” topics, with me chipping in, interrupting, and sharing random epiphanies.

“My” part of the webinar is about some lessons learned from my recent Link Liberation promotion, and the logic behind why I spend so much time writing and researching, just so I can give SEO Fast Start to people for free.

I try to make SEO Fast Start, and everything else I do, as valuable as I can. That’s a personal pride thing, of course, but it’s also smart business in my opinion.

You see, there’s a particular type of opportunity that exists in pretty much every market that you can only take advantage of if you’re truly an expert, and really put in the time to make something of value.

I call this the Value Gap strategy, and it goes like this.

Any niche that’s big enough and important enough to support infoproducts, is big enough to support infoproducts done well.
A really excellent overview product can be a springboard for dozens of products that drill down into more detail. For example, “How To Own Your Own Race Horse” leads to “Race Horse Nutrition Secrets.” You get the idea.

There’s always a demand for more in-depth information, but if your introductory information is garbage, you’re not going to get there. It’s a Value Gap, not a Garbage Gap.

That’s why SEO Fast Start is the perfect lead-in for a very large information marketing business. I think it’s damned good, but in order to get people to read it and apply what they learn, I have to keep it down to a certain size, which since 2001 has always been set at “no more than 100 pages.”

Although I can’t give you every last detail in 100 pages, a lot of readers will never need any more than what I just gave them for free. (And that’s OKAY)

There are Value Gaps all over. Don’t buy into the hype that the market for information is too crowded.

Thus, Link Liberation (and in 2006, the “link building clinic”) is a logical extension of value into a segment of the market that just about *screams* for more value.

In fact, very often you want to specifically aim for the most crowded segments of the market, precisely because of the value gaps that are created by all the “me too” players.

With all the schemes and scams out there about link building, something of real value stands out loud and clear despite all the noise.

Once you see the larger picture of the market, it was obvious to me, in exactly the same way that it was not obvious to anyone else, that the market needed a good training program on link building.

But I digress, again.

Besides talking about my own business model, I’ll also share some important test results from the Link Liberation promotion itself, about “free line” content, where to put the “free line” in terms of what content is given away, and how to optimize the whole thing.

I had a pretty good theory about what to do, but when I put it to the test, the effect was even larger than I had expected.

So I’ll explain all that too.

Here’s the full list of topics – This could run a couple hours, so plan ahead.

  • How to do Profitable Lead Generation – why the promise of “Traffic” is completely empty without the right response mechanisms.
  • The Real ROI behind target audience segmentation – how your list of subscribers and customers wants RELEVANT offers from you, and how to give them.
  • The Moccasin Method and how “Storytelling” saves you from having to be a good copywriter (Thank GOD for that).
  • When to move the free line, and when to pull it BACK (Your market will tell you)
  • A “fill in the blanks,” Spare-Time business Model for Lazy marketers (just add value and wait…)
  • Using “Concussion” planning and the M.E.S. approach to fix multiple problem areas of your business all at once.

Once again, the webinar will be held on Tuesday, September 8 at 6pm US Eastern time, and it’s always a good idea to show up a few minutes early.

Here’s the link to register: http://gurutherapy.com/webinar/

Thanks!

Dan Thies

I Just "Lost" My Job – Woot!

Well, “lost” is probably not the right word, because I am not trying to find it again.

I already sent something out to my newsletter subscribers about this, but thought it was worth a post too.

Yesterday was my last day on the job as a staff member at StomperNet. This has actually been in the works for a while, it’s just taken some time to hand off a whole plateful of responsibilities to different people and work out all the details.

Actually, I’ve still got one more little project to finish but I’m doing this one “on the house” because it’s the primary reason why I took the job in the first place.

I will still be a member of the StomperNet faculty, which is actually a lot cooler than working there.

For example, if a faculty member sleeps in until noon on a Monday, nobody’s going to notice. If the Chief Experience Officer does that, they call and wake him up, long before noon rolls around. 8-O (like, at 9:01 am Eastern time – which is 8:01 here. Seriously.)

Having a job was fun sometimes, and sometimes it sucked. Mostly, it took too much time away from what I am actually good at and enjoy doing – like research and teaching.

What am I going to do with all my new-found time, besides hanging out in the StomperNet forums?

Well, about half of it belongs to my family. The rest will go into some new projects** that I’ve been trying to “find time” for – and some old projects that always seemed to get put on the shelf over pressing work responsibilities.

Meanwhile, the “new StomperNet” is just about ready for public consumption, and it’s going to have a very broad appeal.

When they say that internet marketing is going to change forever, well, you could call that hyperbole if you like, but I’ve seen what’s coming. If you have a web site, you will want to be paying attention on September 9th.

**(details coming sooner than later)