Google Analytics less useful

According to a 16 November 2012 story in econtentmag, Google started encrypting transactions from signed-in users in SSL, so “organic search” queries can’t be captured.

The problem may be greater for commercial entities concerned with “search engine optimization (SEO),” i.e., manipulating characteristics of different search services so that a page’s meta tags, header, and other such ranking features to get higher placement on results pages or otherwise drive searchers to a “conversion” (viewer decides to buy something on the page and thus transmutes into a customer).  As the article says, “The change to SSL has also made it impossible to deliver to targeted landing pages based on organic keyword searches. But Google still allows advertisers to see data related to paid search terms ‘to enable advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and to improve the ads and offers they present to you.’ In other words, Google wants you to fork over some cash.”

This is more of a lesson possibly to be inferred from the commercial world to academic authors who don’t usually try to increase readership by such devious means–and whose pages are less likely to have some of the more sophisticated features that a commercial page uses to shape the “user experience.”  But it is worth noting, just to keep up with what’s going on, and possibly available, in the field of persuasive Web page design.

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