In the SEO world, things are often one step forward, two steps back. Take dark and social search, for example. Brafton previously reported that many companies were unable to determine where site visitors were coming from because their content analytics wasn’t reporting overall data.
The culprit? Many point fingers toward Apple’s Safari iOS 5 and iOS 6, which did not support the “meta referrer” tag. A recent update from Barry Schwartz suggested that issue would soon be resolved with the introduction of iOS 7. SEOs might have assumed that would clear up the issue, but a recent Facebook announcement indicates referral traffic will not be coming out of the ‘dark’ anytime soon.
An official statement from the largest social network stated that all users will be defaulted to secure browsing, using “https” rather than “http” when they navigate to the site. A feature that was previously available as an opt-in, https gives users better privacy options as they navigate the social network and clickthrough to external domains. This change will even impact the majority of mobile browsing, the post added.
What’s good for users isn’t always good for marketers, and this development might throw a wrench in content analytics reports. SEOs often evaluate referral traffic to determine where prospects are engaging with online content, and then which examples are compelling enough to get readers to the company’s web page. Without referrer data for some social browsers, marketers must rely more heavily on the data they can pull from search traffic and on-page navigation.
On Facebook’s behalf, this move might elbow brands into paid ad campaigns, which provide brands valuable data about social media users and the content they click.