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It looks as if Google’s secure SSL search is catching on, as Firefox looks set to adopt it. Here’s what Johnathan Nightingale, Director of Firefox Engineering, told Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land:

“We are currently testing the change to use SSL for built-in Google searches in our Firefox nightly channel. 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,” he said.

Firefox is hoping the change will help make searches more secure and cut back on the ability of publishers to know how people found their sites in Google. Firefox users who have changed their default search engine from Google will not see the change.

Google’s SSL search has been the default for signed-in users at since October. So, if you’re signed into Google, your searches will end up at the secured site, with results also coming back to you via a secured https page.

For a visual on what it looks like, take a look at this screenshot from our search of the keywords “Higher Education Marketing”. Notice the extra S after the http:

Google's SSL search

This is what Google had to say about SSL search in October:

“As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, we recognize the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results we deliver. As a result, we’re enhancing our default search experience for signed-in users…This change encrypts your search queries and Google’s results page.” 

So what does it mean when they say it will make things more “secure”? Essentially, SSL secure search makes it harder for outsiders to “eavesdrop” on what you’re searching for (think of it like a secure connection when buying something online). Secure search means that it can only be seen by Google and the searcher. There are, however, exceptions, most notably Google’s advertisers and users of Google Webmaster Central.

Google has estimated that SSL search accounts for 10% of total searches, but some reports show SSL searches accounting for more than double that figure.

What do you think about Firefox adopting Google’s SSL search?