Bing Begins Supporting Separately SSL Search Site; No Referrers Pass


Bing now appears to be supporting secure search through the address. Previously, trying to use this address generated an error.

If you conduct a search on Bing, while on the HTTPS URL, it will remain HTTPS and keep your searches secure. This is a new feature Bing quietly started supporting over the weekend.

Cyrus Shepard tested to see if the query data would pass from Bing SSL search to Google Analytics. It is known that the standard protocol on the web is to not pass query referrer data from HTTPS to non-HTTPS, but from HTTPs to HTTPs, it should pass.

I am not sure if Bing SSL will pass query data from HTTPS to HTTPS but it definitely should not pass from Bing SSL to a non-HTTPS site.

Our testing does show that when doing a search on Bing Secure Search, and going to a non-secure website, no referrer data passes at all. You don’t know the search term; you don’t even know the search happened on Bing.

Microsoft has not announced any plans for Bing to go SSL yet but this may be a sign that it will come in the near future.

Postscript: A Microsoft spokesperson responded to our request for a comment, below is their response but we do have several follow up questions:

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 via HTTPS, we are giving everyone the ability to decide how they use Bing while also being thoughtful about how we implement this functionality.

Postscript #2: I asked Bing how will they handle passing referrer and query data to webmasters. They sent me this statement:

At this time we are still evolving our rollout of HTTPS at Bing. As we continue to develop our implementation, we will keep the SEO/SEM community needs top of mind and balance them with consumer privacy and security concerns.

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Related Topics: Channel: Analytics | Microsoft: Bing | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Larry Kim

    regarding the use case of supporting data from HTTPS search to an HTTPS
    web site (where query data is supposedly passed) — this use case
    almost never happens — since most content indexed by search engines
    aren’t served via https

  • Adam Dince

    Scroogled! Our corporate site is indexed as HTTPS so we’ll keep an eye on it and post back on findings. I’m guessing that since Bing copies everything Google does, HTTPS to HTTPS will be encrypted too.

  • RyanMJones

    This is odd. but in my tests, I’m not even seeing an HTTP_REFERER being passed from bing’s SSL – meaning not only is there no keyword, but it would show up as direct traffic.

  • James R. Halloran

    Is anyone honestly surprised? If Bing didn’t do this eventually, Google would certainly point this out in their future marketing ploys (even though, we all know Google is truly in no place to talk about revealing sensitive data).

  • JustConsumer

    No surprise. Pretty obvious move, keeping in mind all latest privacy related concerns.

  • Barry Schwartz

    I wouldn’t judge them yet. I am following up to see what is intentional and what is not.

  • RyanMJones

    yeah my gut tells me all they did was enable SSL and nothing else yet. I’m hoping they take the Google approach and put in the intermediary non-ssl page before redirecting to non-ssl domains so that we can at least see it came from Bing.

  • Brandon Shallenberger

    Good thing the NSA can’t break HTTPS, right guys?

  • ashutosh rajput

    it’s a good change for users………good update in Bing well done……

  • Chris Silver Smith

    I believe Duane Forrester, a Bing Webmaster Tools evangelist, told us at the Dallas-Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Conference (State of Search) in November that we should expect to see the keyword data disappearing from Bing in the near future. This would appear to be the first step.

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