Sometime in the next few months after a period of testing, Firefox will implement HTTPS encrypted search by default for all Google search users. Firefox, which enjoys about 25 percent browser market share, is the first to do so, beating even Google Chrome to the punch.
Google first began encrypting search for signed-in users in the U.S. back in October, though marketers called foul on the fact referrer data remains available to the search company’s paying advertising clients. Earlier this month, they took SSL search as the default global. Some webmasters were already reporting the loss of keyword data as high as 20 percent prior to that wider launch.
“We are currently testing the change to use SSL for built-in Google searches in our Firefox nightly channel,” a Mozilla spokesperson told InformationWeek. “If no issues are uncovered, it will move through our Aurora and Beta release channels before eventually shipping to all our Firefox users. This will include migrating the changes to our non-English version of Firefox, as well.”
Webmasters and marketers should expect further loss of referrer data, though to what extent will depend on a number of factors. There may well be some overlap between signed-in Google users, whose data is already unavailable, and Firefox users, whose search data will soon be encrypted unless they opt out of the browser’s security settings.
Through their search deal, Google was responsible for 84 percent of nonprofit Mozilla’s revenue in 2010. The Google-Firefox search deal was renewed in December 2011.