Search engines have always had a dubious record with our information. There’s a good reason Google is so big and so powerful and it isn’t just because their search engine is so popular. In an effort to differentiate themselves from this, Microsoft have announced they will be encrypting traffic going through Bing.

This means web marketers, advertisers and government agencies will be able to see traffic going through Bing but not see the terms you enter into it to get the results. This brings Bing up to competitors in offering encrypted search. Google has been offering it since 2011 and Yahoo since 2013.

A post on the Bing Blog outlines Microsoft’s efforts to keep our data secure. It includes details about embracing the TLS protocol, the fact that users have been able to encrypt their searches for 18 months and the shift of optional encryption to default.

Duane Forrester, Senior Product Manager for Bing had this to say:

“Microsoft has a long-history and deep commitment to helping protect our customers’ data and the security of their systems. While this change may impact marketers and webmasters, we believe that providing a more secure search experience for our users is important.”

“With this change, you will still be able to see Bing as the origin (referrer) of the encrypted traffic, though analytics tools you are using to analyze your traffic generally have their own, proprietary way of including this information in their search reports.” (Source)

It’s still all good for marketers

In order to help marketers and advertisers, new tools are being introduced that will tell them how people arrived at their websites. Keyword data, clicks and impressions will be collated and delivered to webmasters using a different method rather than a straight data conversion from search term to landing page as it is now.

Commercial websites will still be able to gather important metrics from incoming traffic using the Search Query Terms Report. It will show search queries and triggers and everything marketers need to know, it just won’t be identifiable to the source. A further tool, Universal Event Tracking is also available to provide further metrics.

The post-Snowden era is an interesting time for privacy and security. Whatever your view of the man himself, there is no doubt that his actions have brought data privacy to the fore and more people and organisations than ever are taking it seriously. That can only be a good thing.

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