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Encrypted Google Search (Beta) Launched

 10:31 am on May 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Encrypted Google Search (Beta) Launched [googleblog.blogspot.com]
And today we’re gradually rolling out a new choice to search more securely at https://www.google.com.

When you search on https://www.google.com, an encrypted connection is created between your browser and Google. This secured channel helps protect your search terms and your search results pages from being intercepted by a third party on your network. The service includes a modified logo to help indicate that you’re searching using SSL and that you may encounter a somewhat different Google search experience, but as always, remember to check the start of the address bar for “https” and your browser lock indicators:
Today’s release comes with a “beta” label for a few reasons. First, it currently covers only the core Google web search product. To help avoid misunderstanding, when you search using SSL, you won’t see links to offerings like Image Search and Maps that, for the most part, don’t support SSL at this time. Also, since SSL connections require additional time to set up the encryption between your browser and the remote web server, your experience with search over SSL might be slightly slower than your regular Google search experience. What won’t change is that you will still get the same great search results.

A few notes to remember: Google will still maintain search data to improve your search quality and to provide better service. Searching over SSL doesn’t reduce the data sent to Google — it only hides that data from third parties who seek it. And clicking on any of the web results, including Google universal search results for unsupported services like Google Images, could take you out of SSL mode. Our hope is that more websites and services will add support for SSL to help create a better and more consistent experience for you.

Earlier coverage

"Earlier this year, we encrypted Gmail for all our users, and next week we will start offering an encrypted version of Google Search..." [webmasterworld.com]



 7:19 am on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

how are they going to market it to the public?

Wouldn't a 301 redirect be all that it takes? If so, no marketing required.


 7:31 am on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I fear what google does with the data once I search

Even more so since that search will be on their servers. Just a think about it...


 9:14 am on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Now people, Google will not be that big in the future, we will see other search option that has Privacy and user in focus, be cause also the normal surfer is getting worried about google thats what I get to hear around, like "is google really that dangerous" and "can you please fix my computer"

Now if a few unknown and Bing Promote there search engines as Privacy King and with a combined good search, then they have a good chance, like I bet many of you also say to other surfers that Bing, Proxy google are also a good way to surf, when you dont want to have stasi in the neck.


 9:27 am on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Most respectfully... disagree. Google is going for the goodies, and good on them for making bucks, and good controlling making those bucks and...

Bad on me for letting them do it for fear of not making a buck they already control.

Merely suggesting one makes the decision regarding "choose yer poison" and go from there. My decision was made half a year back. Go where you will...


 3:37 pm on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Not to mention shared hosting accounts that don't use their own IP number (which accounts for most of them) can not install a secure cert. If the gorg starts linking rankings to sites with ssl and won't show them if they don't have them, 3/4 of the searchable sites in their database will go poof.


 3:53 pm on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

The topic of NO Ref is very dear to me as I don't rely on any outside vendors for analysis of incoming traffic.

And probably for the ones that might not get it just yet:

Not just extra work, in fact I might have understated the importance of this move by G. In no time WebmasterWorld will have a sea of "I am Banned" but OK in SERP Google Threads, Caffeine Theory, GEO related, Global Recession theory and so on and forth... In turn which makes it just noise, and not good for WebmasterWorld or WWW, cause the questions that will be posted will sound like brain poo to/by the noobs and above.

The HTTPS argument that G presents is simply a push Over at critical time. They tried it with AJAX(thanks tedster), maybe even targeting the new generation of developers "as if it would be cool and we know how", did not go well for them. This time they have a hook in to it, their competition is taking a hit by the media.


 5:19 pm on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Am I the only one to think that the overwhelming hostility to secure serps in this thread is quite strange and somewhat myopic? I run two medium sized websites and while getting information about search keywords from the referrer is a nice bonus it's not critical to the success of my sites.

In the long-term it would be far more damaging to websites in general if confidence in online privacy were undermined - if typical web users knew now how much tracking hapens routinely then many would be horrified. A move away from the current presumption that everything which can be tracked should be tracked doesn't seem a bad thing.

I don't see the move to SSL as a conspiracy against webmasters by Google. In the short term it might be a bit of commercial one-upmanship over Bing (which probably doesn't have the technical capacity to even contemplate this yet) but pretty quickly I expect that all credible search engines will move to SSL - and that overall that will be a good thing for users.

I don't particularly trust google with my data but in terms of probable abuse, other third-parties (e.g. government snoops, ISP's, employers, people logging unsecured wifi) are a much greater threat - and secured SERPS would go quite a way to thwarting that casual monitoring. Sooner rather than later unless major internet sites begin to take the privacy of their users much more seriously I suspect we will be faced with legislative controls to require security, which will ultimately cause many more problems.


 7:04 pm on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Very well stated, japonicus. Secure, encrypted search may be Google's gesture to advance the web and not an intentional power-grab.

At the same time, while you personally may not use the keyword information in referer strings, it is a common way to learn what the general marketplace is looking for -- and to enhance the type of content that is already bringing in traffic. In that way the website can bring in more of that already existing type of traffic and serve it better. a business can also see whether they are getting general keyword search traffic, or only traffic that already knows their brand.

This approach has some strong efficiencies over just taking relatively blind guesses about what content you "might" be able to rank for. Loss of referer string data would hurt that process for many sites that I work with.


 7:10 pm on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Wouldn't a 301 redirect be all that it takes? If so, no marketing required.

Then there would be no need for the http version.

Either way, it will not affect my sites. I rarely even look to see who/where traffic comes from.


 9:09 am on May 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Plus, most will have Google already bookmarked or using the toolbar. I cannot see it being much of a problem. YMMV

Think again. Google can redirect to the SSL version whenever they're ready.


 9:27 am on May 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Think again. Google can redirect to the SSL version whenever they're ready.

Oh, I did think again, and Google stated..."And today we’re gradually rolling out a new choice"

To me, choice means I have an option. So, there will be two versions - http and https

No redirect.


 10:26 am on May 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

If I were Google, I would 301 to https from root, and include a link back to non-encrypted Google, using one of the URL apends they are so fond of. This would auto-301 any non-apended URLs from browser searches, for instance.

As a user, why would you choose to search unencrypted, once functionality has parity with the current offering?

Don't get me wrong, I hate losing referals. And tracking down lost traffic is going to be a nightmare.

So the question is: if I were building a new site today, would I make https:// the canonical version? Other than CPU load, what are the downsides?


 11:09 am on May 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

>Loss of referer string data would hurt that process for many sites that I work with.

I agree, I think that's the real negative aspect. For those that study the information from referer data, it may make using google's stats more compelling for some.


 11:17 am on May 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Long and short... we don't know. That's the worry.

Like most have said my niche (the public one here) is so small it won't make a difference. For those commercial sites I manage it MIGHT. Back to the Long and Short, we won't have data until G starts collecting their data, via SSL.

Not a nay sayer, not a doom sayer, just merely commenting that the playing field has been changed (it was never level.).


 11:53 am on May 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

so just been having a scan around and there appears to some conflict with adsense adverts delivery and referrers.


Let's see how this works today when a user arrives at your golfing advice website from a search engine results page. Imagine that someone searches on Google for [golf shop atlanta] and clicks on a search result that takes them to your site. The referral URL that is passed to your site may look something like this: www.google.com/search?q=golf+shop+atlanta. I'm using Google as an example here, but the same type of information is transmitted if a user arrives at your website from another search engine.

To deliver the most relevant ad, we treat the query words [golf shop atlanta] in the referral URL as if they're part of the content of your webpage. We can then better tailor the ad we deliver on your site. In this example, we could use the additional information from the query words to show an ad for a golf shop in Atlanta rather than for one in Chicago (depending on the other words in the page).

so if they don't pass the ref via the https then what happens to the additional income that both parties generate.

i don't use adsense so i'm no expert here maybe someone thats better qualified than I can help us all out.



 10:02 pm on May 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

And if they are in "Chicago" searching for "golf shop atlanta" you could always throw in some golfing vacation packages on your page also.


 9:05 am on May 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

looking at my stats now I'm seeing thousands of users coming from ip addresses registered to Google, could be a coincidence that these "users" started at the same time that they announced the https version but generally a manual review is a little more discreet than this :)

all visits are direct/bookmark and all are from ip addresses in the States.

hmmm Monopoly



 10:51 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

A further evolution of Google's encrypted search as reported on NextWeb:

Google Moves Encrypted Search to New Domain

Google announced today that it was moving domains for its encrypted search from https://www.google.com to https://encrypted.google.com.

In May Google launched an encrypted version of its Web search, allowing users to enable a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection to encrypt their information as they searched.

As ReadWriteWeb reported, this move ran afoul of some school districts' web filtering requirements, forcing them to possibly block access to other parts of the Google secure domain.


As I write, both possibilities are live - so the headline is a bit off in saying that they "moved" encrypted search.


 8:00 am on Jul 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm still astonished at the number of webmasters who seem to believe that we are entitled to know not only where visitors were before they came to our site but what they were doing!

Yes, the information is useful to us. Yes, if we're ethical we can make it useful for the visitor as well. But I think we all know that there are a handful of people on the internet who are not ethical, and it's not difficult to construct scenarios where the query data leaks information that is nobody else's business. Just look at the AOL fiasco [webmasterworld.com].

The referrer field is a hangover from the internets early, academic, every-node-can-be-trusted-days. I assume that sooner or later it will disappear (at the browser level) and when it does I for one will have a hard time summoning any sense of outrage over the loss of data we probably shouldn't have had in the first place. At least we'll all be in the same boat; our competition won't have the information either.

Why do I feel like I've made this post before? [webmasterworld.com]. I was ignored then as well ;)


 2:09 pm on Jul 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts addresses these issues - and specifically mentions this discussion - in a recent video. Here's the key points I took away.

1. There are no plans to make SSL search the default
2. The purpose for offering encrypted search is security - for instance, using Google search on public wi-fi
3. Google cares about speed but they are willing to sacrifice speed to offer security when needed

Video: Search University 2 - Matt Cutts [youtube.com]


 8:52 am on Sep 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

The following message was cut out to new thread by tedster:

Google Redirected Me to Encrypted Search - Instantly :) [webmasterworld.com]

[edited by: tedster at 12:44 pm (utc) on Sep 9, 2010]


 5:14 pm on Jan 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google could give us back our query parameters... if they so deemed it worthy. Image a checkbox in Google Webmaster Tools that says "append query parameters as arguments":

Click to---->

https searches should probably also default to the https site, if available. But that does not solve the referrer header problem with most browsers.

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