Search engine Bing is to start encrypting searches using Transport Layer Security (TLS) as part of a broader move by Bing owner Microsoft to expand encryption within its network and service offerings. What this means for users of Bing is that rather than seeing referrals coming from http://www.bing.com, they will see them originating from https://www.bing.com. Bing rolled out the option for encrypting search traffic around a year and a half ago.
The latest move, which sees Bing embracing TLS protocols, is being rolled out this summer, and once it has been introduced, Bing will no longer be passing query data on to webmasters. Google made the same move more than three years ago, and with Bing following suit, marketers will no longer be in a position to know in detail how online users are finding their sites via the top two search engines.
Duane Forrester, Senior Product Manager for Webmaster Outreach at Bing, acknowledged that the change may have an effect on webmasters and marketers, but that it is part of a company policy of “providing a more secure search experience for our users”, and he emphasised the importance of this.
Bing has said that “limited query term data” can be derived from three sources:
- Search Query Terms Report: This option is accessible through Bing Ads UI or API and allows users to see the search queries that brought up ads and the associated performance metrics, including conversions, impressions and clicks.
- Universal Event Tracking: This option delivers enhanced performance metrics, such as duration and pages per visit, total visits and bounce rates, linked to the query and keywords bid on by a user, with the goal of gaining a better understanding of conversion performance. Advertisers can use Universal Event Tracking as a base to enable Remarketing in Paid Search, which is in pilot stage at present.
- Bing Webmaster Tools: This option ensures a site gets indexed in Bing and offers users access to both research tools and reports to help them better understand search ranking and how people found a website. This remains a viable option because Bing has decided to maintain keyword and ranking data within Bing Webmaster Tools.