Firefox Secure Search: Some Actionable Insights For Digital Marketers

Covario has followed Google’s encryption process from conception and now the latest change is its efforts in expanding its reach into the popular Firefox browser. Why Chrome wasn’t the first to make this transition will remain unknown. Regardless, in the next few months Mozilla’s three Google settings will all default to a secure method, ensuring privacy and security for all their users.

What makes this adjustment more dramatic for our industry is that this change will be affecting close to 21 percent of Internet users, which means there will be even more uncertainty when it comes to search term data.  What Matt Cutts once said would only affect search results in the “single digits” now has the potential of growing significantly larger and more obscure. One of our past posts, “[Keyword Not Provided]: A Deeper Look,” showed the trends of the types of sites that were seeing the highest impact in their keyword results, some sites seeing over 30% of their keywords undisclosed. With Firefox’s adoption of HTTPS Google search, those numbers will see yet another increase in the near future.

Mobile Search Impact:
Google secure search has yet to tap into the mobile market and with mobile trends on the ever-increasing rise; this is great news for our mobile data.

“At this time, encrypted search is not used for mobile search when you are directly logged into your Google account or even when implied to be such as the default on most Android devices” Senior SEO Strategist Michael Martin said.

In the mobile market fight for browser dominance, Firefox only has .03% of the market share, making it small enough to not even be in the Top 10. While the impact from Firefox on mobile searches might be miniscule, that doesn’t take away from the fact that Google owns over 88% of the Mobile/Tablet Search Engine Market Share. This is some 13% more than its dominant desktop position.

So for now, at least you can rest assured that there will be little to no impact to your mobile SEO data. However, you can’t count out Google or other browsers making changes to the Mobile that will affect mobile search results in the same manner as desktop.

Latest Development:
While writing this article, it came to our attention that secure search already made the leap into mobile. When logged into a Google account on an Android phone (in our case, synced with Gmail), if you perform a voice-activated search, this does appear to be using secure search. Thus far we have only been able to replicate this voice search using the Android browser, but does not occur when using the Chrome browser with any search functionality. However, this does demonstrate that Google is not suppressing this data for mobile and has been testing in this arena.  Results in this sphere are not conclusive and need to be examined in more detail as Google has been known to test incrementally before fully engaging in any product change.

Desktop Search Impact:
According to the most recent Comscore numbers, there are around 402,517,241 searches a day on Google with potentially 85% of them coming from a desktop.  Now according to one figure, 9% of all Google searches come from Firefox putting some 36,226,551 daily searches in the line of fire for this new change by Firefox.

Google projects that Google Plus will have 400 million users by the end of the year. This continued growth of Google’s Search Plus Your World will only increase the number of users logged in and showing [not provided].

Conclusively, when you look at the potential impact of secure search combining all sources—Firefox, Google Search Plus Your World, Gmail and YouTube, secure search has the impending possibility of greatly affecting our organic data and strategy for desktop. Let’s continue to monitor the impact and like all other changes Google throws our way, adjust and conform.

Actionable Insight:

  • Using your analytics platform of choice, log in and compare the month over month and year over year for Firefox usage. While the Internet average is 21 percent, many of our clients see a much lower percentage. What is the trend for your customers and prospects?
  • Again dig into your analytics platform, but this time look at the mobile vs. desktop. What does the possible impact look like for you?
  • Talk to your SEM manager and share data with them. Make sure you ask for the Search Query report to get what the user searched for and not what keyword your company was bidding on.  This data is still currently available and will be a great resource for you in the future.
  • Our list from “[Keyword Not Provided]: A Deeper Look” still applies, so be sure to see what else you can be doing.