Google "Search Plus Your World" To Launch Beyond US? Likely, As Secure Search Set To Expand

Google has announced that by default, it will begin encrypting search beyond Google.com in the coming weeks. Since the reason Google uses secure search is primarily to enable its “Search Plus Your World” personalized results, this means SPYW is likely to expand beyond the US. It also means that search marketers can expect the percentage of “not provided” data they see to greatly increase.

Secure Search = Search Plus Your World

Last October, Google changed things so that anyone logged into Google.com would be searching through a secure connection. That was positioned as a move to increase privacy. It prevented others from “eavesdropping” on what someone might be searching for.

In January, it became clearer why blocking eavesdropping threats was so important to Google. Google launched its new “Search Plus Your World” service, which potentially generated more searches that might reveal information about particular searchers who could be identified. Secure searching was necessary to prevent very personal searches from being inadvertently revealed.

At launch, Search Plus Your World was only offered to those searching at Google.com and in English. Since secure searching was a precursor to Search Plus Your World, any expansion of secure search can be seen as a harbinger that SPYW will expand.

Where will it come to? From the blog post:

We’re now ready to expand this protection, so over the next few weeks we will begin introducing SSL search beyond google.com to our local domains around the globe.

By “local domains,” Google means country-specific versions of Google, such as google.co.uk (Google UK) or google.fr (Google France) as opposed to Google.com, which is mostly used by those in the US though also available to a worldwide audience.

Chances are, we’ll see Google release Search Plus Your World to country-specific domains with heavy English-speaking audiences (such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada), then domains with non-English languages are likely to follow. That’s been the case with some other Google products that have initially started out targeting English speakers using Google.com.

As an aside, Search Plus Your World was down for several hours today. Google tells us it was a temporary bug, and it’s now working again. Google also tells us about any expansion plans:

We’re working to launch Search plus Your World internationally, but have nothing further to announce at the moment. This change is about improving the privacy and security of users’ search results.

Not Provided Withholding To Grow

The change to secure search also meant that Google no longer provided publishers with the search terms someone used to reach their sites, except for ads that publishers and others may have placed. This raised issues ranging from anti-trust implications to hypocrisy the Google cared about privacy up to the point where it hit the company’s bottom line.

The stories below explain this all in more depth, and I’d strongly encourage you to read them:

Google initially said that publishers would see data withheld for “single-digit” percentages of their Google search-related visits. In short order, plenty of publishers found more than 10% of searches were being withheld. These “not provided” searches, as Google Analytics reports them, will only increase as part of the coming secure search rollout.

Privacy Loophole Remains

The last article in the list above has a section explaining how withholding search term data from non-advertisers still left privacy loopholes. As I wrote:

Today’s change does nothing to change my view that Google needs to revisit the referrer blocking and either make it a block for everyone, including advertisers, or find a better way to filter search terms that get made visibile in various ways.

For all Google’s talk in today’s blog post about how SSL encryption will be expanded beyond Google.com to “increase the privacy and security of your web searches,” it continues to deliberately leave a loophole that benefits itself directly and its paid advertisers. That’s disappointing.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Google: Privacy | Google: Search Plus Your World | Top News

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • jhuman

    Nice post!

    It sounds like duckduckgo.com would be a better choice for some if they have a problem with google search.

  • Neil

    While protecting the privacy of the Google Plus user, it now makes it more difficult for business owners to know how their website is getting found.

    Google is getting one step closer to monetizing their searches. When logged into Google Plus (via gmail, YouTube or any other Google owned site) the search results are no longer pure. Google is basing the results on the history of the user right now, but who is to say that they are not suppressing non-Google customers in the results.

    Are they now going to force business owners to use Google Analytics, which may become be the only way to view the search terms used to find their own sites?

    I think Google may be killing the golden goose as users begin to realize that Google is not giving pure results, and while claiming that this protects the identity of the user, they are actually gathering information about the users for their own devices.

  • http://www.andykuiper.com Andy Kuiper

    Not here in Canada… yet.
    I played with via .com – uhhhm, not sure what to think of it yet.
    Andy :-)

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