Google announced today that it will be stepping up security on its search feature for signed-in users. These users will now get an SSL encrypted search experience by default, which means that their search terms and results can’t be intercepted by hackers or nosy network admins. This will be especially important for those that often use public unsecured internet connections, such as WiFi hotspots at cafes.
SSL encryption was introduced to Gmail back in January of last year and Google has already been offering https://encrypted.google.com as a beta service. Encryption has also been available as an option for other major platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. In Google’s search implementation, it will encrypt both your search queries as well as the search results page. The change should take effect within the next few weeks, where you may notice a redirect to https://www.google.com. The “https” versus the original “http” indicates the secure connection.
However, this will have an effect on how websites track its visitors. Websites will still be able to know that a visitor came from Google search, but will not be able to know the original search query that brought them. Google will, instead, provide aggregated lists of the top 1,000 search queries that brought traffic to a particular site over the past 30 days through Google’s Webmaster Tools. Ads that are clicked on will continue to deliver relevant query data to enable network advertisers to measure campaign effectiveness.