The Evolution of Secure Search
The protection of user privacy has become a source of hot debate. In June last year, the Washington Post reported that the National Security Agency and the FBI were tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Since then, the security and privacy of user data has become a priority for large Internet companies including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. Following the move to Secure Search by Google and Microsoft in September 2013 and January 2014 respectively, Yahoo’s shift to secure search this week reinforces the commitment to user privacy. The general shift to secure search across engines has a significant impact for marketers and I'd like to shed some light on the impact of the Yahoo shift. Also, I will discuss how BrightEdge customers are, and have been, setup to succeed in a secure search world with our innovation in content-centric SEO.
Yahoo secure search - what does it mean for you?
Last week, secure search became a reality for Yahoo.com. At the moment, there still seems to be a lack of clarity as to when this rollout will affect Yahoo properties in other regions such as the UK and Europe. However, Yahoo has stated in Search Engine Land that:
“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.
This comes on the heels of Microsoft's announcement this January that it began switching their traffic to secure, encrypted SSL search. On Thursday, BrightEdge reached out to Bing PR who referred us to the following statement from a Microsoft spokesperson:
“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 Bing.com via HTTPS, we are giving everyone the ability to decide how they use Bing while also being thoughtful about how we implement this functionality.”
The difference between Microsoft, Yahoo, Bing and Google secure search
The differences between how the three major search engines actually handle secure search can be summarized along two dimensions - whether the searches are secure by default and what referral data is/was passed. Bing, which has 18% market share in the US (Source: comScore), made a move to secure search earlier this month. The key difference for marketers is that, compared to Google, Secure Search is optional at this moment in time. Bing added SSL support to search but users actively need to go to the HTTPS version of Bing to see it. Yahoo, on the other hand, has made secure search the default, like Google. Unlike Google’s change to secure search, where users could still see that traffic was actually coming from Google, Yahoo’s change is slightly different in terms of how data is passed along. Referral data is not passed. It is also worth noting that Google advertisers can still get paid keyword data via Adwords. Bing handles referral data like Yahoo does.
Marketers neex to adopt page-centric SEO
With Secure Search and the resulting loss of keyword referral data, the metrics and the methodology that SEO practitioners have been using have dramatically changed. Adopting a content and page centric approach to SEO is the new direction for success. Adapting to new search strategies that focus on what happens and converts on your web pages (rather than just keyword traffic) in relation to content, search, and social sets you up for Secure Search success in 2014. This applies to Google, Yahoo and Bing versions of Secure Search. “Measuring the aggregated impact of all the ranking keywords on a given page represents a big step forward in SEO analytics. Page-based reporting sheds light on how site changes can affect the bottom line,” according to Neiman Marcus.
Here's how you can transition to page-based SEO
To guide our technology innovations, BrightEdge invests in research and thought leadership to help customers stay ahead of changes like secure search. Last year at Share13, we discussed a new research report showing the impact of secure search across our 8,500 brand customers. You can download the report here. Stay tuned for an update to this report.
Understand the five tenets of secure search
Not only do we track the footprint of secure search but we also extend our thought-leadership to provide the marketing community a structured framework to manage the impact of secure search. We put together the Secure Search Manifesto to highlight what our customer community of over 20,000 professionals knows to be self-evident truths that guide them in the world of secure search. To understand how these truths manifest in a page-centric SEO world, read our Secure Search whitepaper. Following the success of leading brands from our 8500+ strong customer base, the whitepaper provides a step-by-step approach to transitioning your program to page-based SEO using BrightEdge’s comprehensive solution for secure search.
Download the Secure Search whitepaper now.
BrightEdge customers have access to the only market-wide, global secure search solution
Our top value is customer success, and we innovate to keep customers ahead of the changes in search and digital marketing. Just as Google, Facebook and Twitter are all Silicon Valley technology innovators, BrightEdge innovates in lock step to help you succeed. The shift to secure search calls for a move away from keyword-centric SEO to one where pages form the core. The BrightEdge platform offers the only comprehensive solution for Secure Search that includes, among others, Page Reporting, Page Manager, Google Webmaster Tools integration and Estimated Keyword Data. Using this solution, customers can transform their SEO programs into content-centric SEO based on pages.
Starting in 2012, even before the advent of Secure Search, BrightEdge began making significant technology investments in page and content-centric SEO analytics and recommendations. Page Manager was designed specifically to help our customers transition from a keyword dependent SEO model to a page-centric model. You can learn more about this at the Page Manager section of our site.
BrightEdge also released Page Reporting last year, a new technology that helps brands understand the true value of pages provided by organic search traffic. Please see the Page Reporting section of our site for further details.
BrightEdge Google Webmaster tools integration
BrightEdge is the only enterprise grade SEO platform to offer seamless Google Webmaster Tools (GWMT) integration with support for multiple sites. With GWMT integration at the site and keyword level, brands are able to restore partial keyword visibility that is no longer available due to Google’s shift to 100% secure search.
Estimated keyword reports
Finally, we built Estimated Keyword Reporting, a “triangulation" method, whereby we take into account a keyword's search volume, rank, and the click through rate (CTR) to estimate how much traffic a keyword is driving.
Learn more by visiting the Estimated Keyword Reporting page.
More secure search thought leadership from BrightEdge
We take pride in actively tracking the trends in marketing and providing thought leadership to the marketing community to stay ahead of these trends. I am excited to share with you the following additional resources authored by us to help you navigate this huge transformation smoothly. Hope you find them useful.
- BrightEdge Blog - BrightEdge Customers Are Ready For Secure Search
- BrightEdge Blog - Our Secure Search Solution Got Even Better With Google Webmaster Tools Integration!
- Media Post - Encrypted Search: How Search Marketers Need To Rethink Metrics
- Search Engine Land - The Year That SEO Changed Forever
- Search Engine Watch - A New Direction For SEO in 2014 – The Secure Search Manifesto
- Search Engine Watch - The 3Ps of Content Measurement: Page Rank, Traffic & Engagement