In September of last year, Google began to enable secure search for those who weren't signed into a Google account. It was seemingly part of an effort to encrypt more of its traffic from the prying eyes of the NSA, but some felt that Google was only doing it to bring more people into its AdWords platform. At least you could always turn to Bing for unencrypted search, right?
Search Engine Watch is reporting that Bing now offers secure search, but it's entirely optional at this point. Those who visit Bing today will still get the unencrypted site by default. If you precede the web address with https://, however, you'll be taken to the SSL encrypted Web site.
Interestingly enough, it seems that Microsoft has yet to go the Google route by letting those signed into a Bing account toggle SSL search. Those who are signed into Bing only have unencrypted search for now. With SSL encryption seemingly on the way, however, it's only a matter of time before Microsoft makes SSL the default for those signed into their accounts.
All of this is a good thing from the consumer perspective as secure search helps to further protect the privacy of those who use the search platform. It's not so good for webmasters and marketers as it makes it impossible for them to see keyword referral data. Bing knows that the loss of keyword referral data is a concern, and told Search Engine Watch that it's keeping "the SEO/SEM community needs top of mind" while balancing "them with consumer privacy and security concerns."
What does that mean? Well, it probably means that Bing will encrypt search while directing webmasters to its Bing Ads platform. The same will probably hold true for Yahoo Search as it's powered by Bing and Bing Ads as well. While it's certainly good for Bing as more people will use its Bing Ads platform, it probably won't sit well with webmasters still bitter over Google's move to SSL.