When Google moved entirely to secure search, or what webmasters know best as “(not provided)”, many believed it was only a matter of time before other search engines jumped on the bandwagon in the name of providing privacy for their searchers. We can now add one more search engine to the list, as Yandex has now made the move to encrypted search.
Yandex has announced that they’ve begun encrypting 100 percent of searches done through Yandex, meaning webmasters with traffic from Yandex, will now see “(not set)” or “(not provided)” being returned in their analytics.
Their announcement didn’t seem to target searcher privacy in the same way Google and the other primary search engines, which claimed they were protecting search query data from being intercepted, with government and spy agency interception being a major concern in light of the NSA scandal.
But Yandex, on the other hand, has said that they are simply protecting the users from advertisers gaining valuable market data on their customers through things such as widgets, counters, and advertising tools placed on the landing page, according to the Russian Search Tips site:
Yandex explains the decision to encrypt referrer data by privacy concerns over various 3rd party systems, such as counters, advertizing tools, widgets etc. being able to gather a lot of user behavior and interest data that is to a large extent private.
Similar to how Google allows some keyword data to flow to webmasters through their Google Webmaster Central accounts, Yandex has something similar set up. Website owners can access those keywords through Yandex.Metrika and Yandex.Webmaster. However, they haven’t made the keywords available for Google Analytics or any other third party tool not produced by Yandex.
That said, unless you’re getting a great deal of traffic from Russia, you likely won’t see a huge impact in your analytics data. Yandex has a very small market share in North America and ranks below AOL, which has 1.3 percent of the U.S. search market share, according to April figures from comScore. It does have a very significant market share in Russia.