Everything you need to know about SEO, published jointly with Search Engine Land every Thursday.
Yahoo Makes Secure Search The Default
Yahoo has now joined Google in making all searches people do automatically go through a secure server, to help prevent eavesdropping by outsiders. Unlike Google, however, Yahoo has failed to make an important change to how “referrer” data is passed along, which will result in people thinking Yahoo Search has suddenly dropped in popularity.
Yahoo.com Goes Secure
The switch only seems to be happening on Yahoo.com, not on other Yahoo properties I’ve checked like Yahoo UK, Yahoo Germany, Yahoo France or Yahoo Japan. Yahoo did confirm to us that the switch happened but didn’t clarify on exactly which Yahoo properties, though we specifically asked.
Rather, Yahoo said the rollout was on-going and part of plans announced at the end of last year:
As announced in November 2013, Yahoo is moving towards using https as the default for searches. We are currently in the process of rolling this out. [Our] Tumblr post
At MarTech Europe, you'll hear stories from marketing and technology experts about their digital transformation challenges and success. Find out their secrets for building their marketing stacks... and doing it right. Register for an All Access Pass by Friday and...
Google is rolling out its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) platform to the core mobile search results. AMP results used to only show in the news carousel, but now these pages will be mixed in with all mobile search results. It's...
[caption id="attachment_192600" align="aligncenter" width="1920"] Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (c) 2016 HHonors[/caption] When we interviewed Geraldine Calpin, the Chief Marketing Officer of Hilton Worldwide, we couldn’t help but think in terms of “Magical Thinking and Heroic Action.” As the new marketing leader of...
SMX East kicks off in just a few days! Why settle for flat SEO and SEM performance? Get actionable SEO and SEM tactics and best practices in retargeting, AdWords scripts, backlinks, adaptable content, and more. View the exceptional content in our agenda, then register for the ultimate...
With the holidays fast approaching, shopping season has already begun for some and others are sure to start very soon. Online retailers can bring in new customers with a well-planned shopping campaign on both Google and Bing. In this week's...
Back in 2007, I took a job with a large software company that built a massive but traditional software business. My team was challenged with shifting our enterprise CIO customers perspectives away from traditional products to cloud-based enterprise offerings. At...
Apple dominated the news space this week with its iPhone 7 and other hardware announcements, but marketers should be paying more attention to what happens next week when Apple releases iOS 10 to the world. In this week's episode of...
[caption id="attachment_190778" align="aligncenter" width="1399"] GE Healthcare's US Life Sciences headquarters in Marlborough, Massachusetts, via the company's Instagram account.[/caption] In this look into how CMOs are transforming marketing organizations for the challenge of reaching people today, we spoke with Justin Steinman, CMO...
You've probably heard the phrase "duplicate content" being thrown around from time to time, and like any savvy webmaster, you’d never dare to publish the same content twice -- but have you? Duplicate content is the equivalent of overdrawing your checking...
Classes are in session, and not just for the kids. Polish your SEO & SEM skills at any of the four incredible full-day workshops on Monday, September 26. All workshops are held the day before SMX East kicks off in New...
I’m a sucker for a good sound bite, and I heard plenty of great ones at our company's *conference in Boston a few weeks ago. However, as a researcher and former journalist, I also like to dig into a sound...
We all know digital video is leaving its mark on television, but the jury is still out as to just how significantly it's affected. TV still dominates in terms of viewership and ad spend, but data shows that consumer behaviors...
There's no single event as big as the Super Bowl when it comes to brand advertising. This year, more than 50 brands invested upwards of $4.5 million to buy a Super Bowl ad - and that doesn't include what each...
Once upon a time, great brand strategists understood that one of the best ways to reach consumers was through the people they love and align with. At its core, it’s a great idea! Get leaders, celebrities or someone with an audience...
If you're beginning to see fewer and fewer vacation photos in your social streams, you're not alone. As the summer winds down, so does the busiest time of the year for travelers, airlines and hotels. But the season passing doesn’t mean...
The ideal brand relationship is much more than a single experience. It comprises multiple experiences and events that tie the consumer to that specific brand. That brand becomes the go-to for purchasing the perfect birthday gift or the top destination...
You may not have noticed, but things are changing substantially in the local search space. Google has made several moves this year that have some local search watchers talking about visibility becoming more of a pay-to-play scenario. Meanwhile, voice search...
Welcome to the final article of my series on how to work more effectively with ad partners in highly regulated industries. My goal has been to show advertisers how to embrace, not fear, the federal ad regulations governing them and their...
There are probably countless articles on Marketing Land (and Search Engine Land) that encourage readers not to put all of their marketing eggs in one basket. And I know that message has been drilled home countless times over the years...
Google doesn't often pre-announces penalties, but it did that recently with the news that "intrusive interstitials" on mobile devices will earn a ranking penalty beginning in early 2017. Not all interstitials are considered "intrusive," and we talk about what Google...
The post doesn’t specifically talk about Yahoo Search going secure. It says that all Yahoo products will be made more secure (so that would include search), but then goes on to say that users would be given an option to encrypt data. With Yahoo’s search change, no option is given. It’s been made secure by default — which for users, is generally a good thing. Few tend to change defaults.
Yahoo did say that all its properties should see a similar change by March 31, 2014:
Yahoo will encrypt all information that moves between our data centers and offer users an option to encrypt all data flow to/from Yahoo by the end of Q1 2014. This effort will extend to all of our properties.
Yahoo didn’t say when exactly the change happened, but we were tipped to it by a reader yesterday as it being fairly recent. The Washington Post noted that Yahoo confirmed its email services would move to secure servers on January 8, so perhaps search was changed at the same time or near to it.
What Secure Search Means For Consumers
By going to secure search, Yahoo is sending all queries through a secure server, one that can’t easily be eavesdropped on by outsiders, such government agencies like the NSA or private third-parties.
You can see the change happen because if you go to http://yahoo.com (the http:// prefix representing an ordinary, unsecure server), after doing a search, you’ll see that the URL has changed to https:// (representing that a secure server was used to process the search and send results to you).
The change, as explained, should help prevent eavesdropping of searches, which can individually be sensitive but are far more a concern if someone can intercept a series of them and construct a profile of what a particular person has been searching for.
What Search Search Means For Marketers
The move to secure search also means that Yahoo no longer passes along “referrer” data that tells web sites the terms they were found for, in most cases. Think of referrer data as a “caller ID” for the web. In the past, if someone searched on Yahoo, then clicked on one of the listings, the destination site would be told that a search was done on Yahoo and the terms that were used to find them.
For example, if someone searched on Yahoo for “books” and clicked on a listing for Amazon, Amazon would be able to tell that it received a visitor from Yahoo and that the visitor searched for the word “books.”
With the change, this no longer happens. Yahoo is sending no referrer data at all from its secure server to unsecure sites (which are most sites out there). This means marketers who are getting traffic from Yahoo won’t know this at all. They’ll instead see a plunge in traffic coming from Yahoo and a rise in traffic from “direct” visitors.
One site, Marketing Champu, has already noted a drop in its logs. Many more sites will be noticing this going forward.
See our related story on Search Engine Land for more about this:
FYI, for those who run secure servers, it does appear Yahoo is following standard protocol and passing referrers to those. We’re double-checking with Yahoo about this.
How Yahoo Is Screwing Up Its Popularity, Unlike Google
As said above, Google also went to secure search by default, back in September, as our story below explains:
However, publishers did not find that as a result, Google was suddenly dropping in popularity. The reason is that Google purposely has made changes so that it passes along some referrer information — enough that people know that a search happened on Google — but not the actual search term itself.
As a result, Google continues to be accurately measured by marketers in terms of how much aggregate traffic it sends them, even if they are left in the dark about the exact terms used.
Why didn’t Yahoo do the same? My guess is Yahoo didn’t even think about it. But when asked about the lack of referrer data and how that may impact Yahoo’s apparently popularity, the company said:
As the rollout is not complete, we aren’t able to comment yet on this.
The Loopholes In Google’s Protection
Actually, there is one case where Google keeps transmitting search term data in the clear, not through any secure method. That’s for its advertisers.
Google purposely left a loophole in its security so that so that advertising terms continue to be passed on. It also left loopholes so that individual terms continue to be passed on within its Google Webmaster Tools service. Both mean that Google’s secure search isn’t as secure as it could be, but Google seems happy with that trade-off. More about this below:
- The Questions Google Refuses To Answer About Search Privacy
- How Google could have made the Web secure and failed — again
What About Bing?
You may have heard that Bing has gone to secure search this month, too. That’s not quite correct. Earlier this month, Bing made a secure version of its search service available for anyone who wants to use it. But if you don’t use it, then searches continue to be unsecure. The default has not changed to use secure search, as it the case with Google and Yahoo.
Our story below has more about this:
Most Secure: Yahoo, Then Google
Overall, the rundown is like this:
- Yahoo: secure search by default, no search terms passed, no referrers passed, except for advertisers
- Google: secure search by default, search terms passed to advertisers or through Google’s publisher tools
- Bing: search search optional, no search terms passed, no referrers passed
Yahoo appears to provide the most security for searchers because by default it is passing no information along at all, not even individual terms. It might. however, be passing ad clicks. We’re checking further on that.
Postscript: Yahoo tells us that it is providing full referrers to advertisers.
Google provides great security by default to prevent eavesdropping in order to build a search profile of someone, but it provides no real security when it comes to the privacy of individual terms.
Bing provides security, but only for those who seek it out.
See also our Search Engine Land for more about Yahoo’s change and its impact on analytics: