Google encrypts search: Will tracking be affected?

21/10/2011

Google account holders will now have all their searches encrypted by default for extra security, the company has announced. The move comes over a year after Google made ‘SSL’ encryption the default setting for Gmail, and also introduced an encrypted search service. Search over SSL is currently available on web, images and all the search modes on Google Search, except for maps.

21/10/2011

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The Google experience using SSL search might be very slightly slower than people are used to because the computer needs to first establish a secure connection with Google, the company said.

Analytics not affected?

Websites visited from organic search listings will still know that the user came from Google, but will not get information about each individual query, Google said.

The websites can also receive an aggregated list of the top 1,000 search queries that drove traffic to their site for each of the past 30 days through Google Webmaster Tools, Google said.

But if the user clicks on an advertisement appearing on the search results page, the browser will continue to send the relevant query over the network to enable advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and to improve the ads and offers they present.

"As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, we recognize the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results we deliver," Google's product manager, Evelyn Kao said in a blog post on Tuesday.

The encryption is expected to be particularly useful for people using an unsecured Internet connection, such as a Wi-Fi hotspot in an Internet caf, Kao added.

With Google search over SSL, users get an end-to-end encrypted search channel between their computer and Google. The secured channel helps protect search terms and search results pages from being intercepted by a third party, Google said in a description of SSL search.

Over the next few weeks, users will be redirected to a secure search site when they are signed in with their Google Account. The change encrypts search queries and Google's results page.
Users can also navigate directly to the secure search site if they are signed out or don't have a Google Account.

More details on how SSL encrypted Google searches work here.

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