Microsoft will sharpen Bing’s security when it starts encrypting all of its search traffic by default this summer.
Bing has offered HTTPS encryption for the past year and a half as an opt-in feature, but now Microsoft will default to locking down everybody’s search queries.
Providing encryption gives a new layer of protection to Bing users and helps guard their traffic from snooping.
With this move, Microsoft catches up to its peers in the search market. In 2011, Google began encrypting searches by default for users who were signed in to their Google account. Starting in 2013, the search giant moved all search traffic through HTTPS. Yahoo, Microsoft’s search alliance partner, began encrypting search traffic from its homepage by default in early 2014.
With the switch to encrypted traffic, Microsoft is also changing the way that webmasters get information about searches that lead to their websites. The company will still offer a referrer string so that website operators and marketers can see that the encrypted traffic is coming from Bing, but won’t provide the exact search term that led people to a page.
Instead, Bing Webmaster Tools will continue to provide aggregated keyword and ranking data so that website operators can keep track of what draws users to their websites along with how they compare with the competition. Advertisers will be able to see what search queries triggered their Bing ads using the Search Query Terms Report, which also provides information on other performance metrics like clicks, impressions and conversions.