The change to default secure search, thought to be fairly recent, was not announced, but spotted by a user. Yahoo however has given confirmation of the change to MarketingLand.
The move is a part of a promise made by Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer in November 2013, with a post titled “Our Commitment to Protecting Your Information” on the company’s Tumblr page, a post that also assured users the firm never gave any data centre access to NSA or any other government agency.
The post further added that “There is nothing more important to us than protecting our users’ privacy. To that end, we recently announced that we will make Yahoo Mail even more secure by introducing https (SSL – Secure Sockets Layer) encryption with a 2048-bit key across our network by January 8, 2014.” This presumably was rolled out, without any announcement.
The post also mentions that the firm will encrypt all information that moves between Yahoo’s data centres by the end of Q1 2014; offer users an option to encrypt all data flow to/from Yahoo by the end of Q1 2014, and work closely with its international Mail partners to ensure that Yahoo co-branded Mail accounts are https-enabled.
It has been understood that the switch to secure search has only been applied to Yahoo’s US website (yahoo.com) and not yet on any of the other major Yahoo properties, like Yahoo UK, Yahoo Germany, Yahoo France or Yahoo Japan. It uses https as the default for search. As noted by MarketingLand however, Yahoo has crucially missed out on a way to integrate referrer data with the new secure search, and this will automatically drop Yahoo from marketers rankings. Without referrer data or search terms, marketers will get traffic for their sites from Yahoo, but never know it came from there. Advertiser partners however, will get full referrer data.
Google on the other hand, when it rolled out its default secure search option, ensured referrer data without search terms was passed on to marketers, and search terms were on to advertisers. In this way, MarketingLand assesses that Yahoo’s secure search for now is more secure than Google, passing along less data, with Bing the least secure, simply because its secure search is an option, and not default. Once enabled though, Bing passes along no search terms or referrer data.