In November 2013, Microsoft began looking into improving search security for Bing users following the National Security Agency (NSA) spy controversy. Now they have taken their security efforts to a new level by launching a separate SSL search site:

A screenshot of Bing’s new HTTPS website

When you use the HTTPS version of Bing to search, your search query data will be encrypted, and will not show up on Google Analytics. Web Strategy and SEO Consultant Cyrus Shepard confirmed this by conducting a simple experiment. He used two different keywords on the regular HTTP Bing site, and on the HTTPS version, and checked the results in Google Analytics’ Real-Time. It showed that only the keyword for the HTTP search was forwarded to Google Analytics.

The results of Cyrus Shepard’s HTTP versus HTTPS search on Bing

The launch of the HTTPS website was done quietly over the past weekend, and Microsoft has not announced any plans to encrypt search for Bing. For now, secure search is completely optional for Bing users. In a response to a request for comment by Search Engine Land, a Microsoft spokesperson said: “At Bing we are always experimenting to improve the overall search experience and understand that people want choices in how they protect their privacy online. By providing optional access to via HTTPS, we are giving everyone the ability to decide how they use Bing while also being thoughtful about how we implement this functionality.”

Microsoft has also stated that they “we will keep the SEO/SEM community needs top of mind and balance them with consumer privacy and security concerns” as they continue developing their HTTPS rollout.

What Does This Mean for You?

With Google and Yahoo already encrypting their search queries, this move toward secure search on Bing could limit your sources of organic search data further. Secure search is still completely optional for Bing users, but it’s better to be prepared. I’ve already written a blog post about how you can adapt to the loss of organic referral data, and our partners can rest assured that we will continue providing detailed keyword and organic traffic data in their reports and proposals.

Sign up as a partner and talk to your account manager to find out how we stay on top of these updates and continue providing effective keyword research and SEO services.

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