Yahoo Search Goes SSL: Not Provided

Jan 23, 2014 • 8:57 am | comments (8) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Yahoo Search Engine & Yahoo SEO

Yahoo SSL SearchYahoo is now defaulting all their search results over SSL, which is secure search but also means that pesky [not provided] figure will increase.

Danny Sullivan broke the story at Search Engine Land yesterday. In short, if you do a search at or, the results will direct to When a searcher clicks from the search results to your site, you won't be getting the referrer data, nor the query data. Well, that is if your site is not secure itself.

Google shows not provided for 90%+ of the search referrers. Google is specifically not going with protocol, they are wiping out the search referrer data even if the searcher is going from HTTPS to HTTPS, i.e. from Google to your secure site.

Yahoo does not do that, Yahoo will pass the referrer and query data if your site is secure.

Bing just added SSL support to search but you need to actively go to the HTTPS version of Bing to see it. When you do, the referrer data is not passed, like Yahoo, to an unsecure site. Which again is protocol. But from HTTPS to HTTPS, it does pass, unlike Google.

Danny summed it up well, if you have a standard HTTP site, then:

  • Google: secure search is the default, Google referrer passed but search terms stripped, except for advertisers.
  • Bing: secure search is optional, no referrers passed
  • Yahoo: secure search is the default, no referrers passed

I decided to launch a What Is My Secure Referrer? site, so when Google, Bing and Yahoo index it, you can search for What Is My Secure Referrer? and click on the URL and it will report back your referrer. There are plenty of sites that show the non HTTPS referrer path.

Forum discussion at Google+.

Previous story: December 2013 U.S. Search Engine Rankings By comScore



01/23/2014 02:02 pm

I wonder if any part of this was to do with yahoo no longer wanting to share data with Google thanks to most sites having G analytics?

Alexander Hemedinger

01/23/2014 02:16 pm

It's a possibility. It's a good thought.

Pascal Landau

01/23/2014 02:34 pm

Actually that won't increase the [not provided] value. As no referrer is passed at all, this traffic will occur as "direct" since your analytics has no way of knowing where it came from. You might notice a drop in yahoo/bing organic search traffic though and - of course - you're loosing the keyword data anyway.

Gary Steel

01/23/2014 04:31 pm

It's an interesting string that is presented in the "What is my secure referrer" site as the referrer. What can we make of it? What does it tell us exactly?

Barry Schwartz

01/23/2014 04:34 pm

I explained it better at


01/24/2014 10:41 pm

That means that if the destination page is secured then you should be getting the referrer + the keyword, right?


01/24/2014 10:57 pm

Yes, at least from Bing and Yahoo! not from Google.

Jaimie Sirovich

01/26/2014 08:16 am

RIP Hittail.

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