Since late 2011, Google has been gradually encrypting more and more of the keywords people use when searching for something. The company started with the searches conducted by users who were logged into Google products. It has now added searches conducted from Firefox, Safari, iOS and other devices. And the company has said that it’s moving towards the position where all search queries will be encrypted.
What that means is that web masters will eventually have no idea what keywords bring up their site as a result of a Google search. And this in turn means that the prospects of the existing SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) industry seem to have suddenly, er, dimmed.
Some people are blaming Edward Snowden for this, on the grounds that his disclosures strengthened Google’s resolve to protect their users’ searches from the prying eyes of the NSA. This seems unreasonable, if only because Google embarked on this strategy long before anyone had heard of Snowden. It’s doing this for its own commercial reasons. The fact that it helps to defend us from NSA snooping is just a bonus.