A few thoughts on SSL Search

I’m incredibly happy that Google has added the option to search over SSL by going to https://www.google.com/ — note the “s” in “https.” I’m writing this blog post in a hotel right now because I’m in Europe for a week doing a series of tech talks, but I could just as easily be working down at local Dublin cafe with an open WiFi hotspot. In both cases, I might want to do a private search that the hotel or local cafe can’t see. A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection provides an encrypted tunnel between my browser and Google, so other people can’t sniff what I’m searching for.

I believe encrypted search is an important option for Google searchers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked for secure search in the past (see this post from 2009), and I credit them for helping to put this on Google’s radar. Another inspiration that helped to spark this project was Cory Doctorow’s book “Little Brother.” It was one of my favorite books of 2008 and while I won’t go into the book’s plot here, it’s a quick, fun read. “Little Brother” also makes a compelling case for encrypting HTTP traffic on the web.

Some people don’t yet fully understand how SSL search works. I saw one commenter sayIf they still pass in the search parameters in the URL (Get), what’s the point? People can still see what you queried, if they made them “post” messages it might actually do something.” It’s important to realize that even though you as a surfer can see the query in the url, the sites between your browser and Google can’t. Google OS demonstrated that by sniffing a regular HTTP query and an HTTPS query in Wireshark to show that the query can’t be seen going over the wire.

Thanks to all the people at Google who did the all the hard work and heavy lifting to deliver this. One of the main engineers behind the effort was Evan Roseman, a member of the webspam team who you might have met at previous search conferences. In fact, Evan was originally scheduled to be on our site review session at Google I/O this past Thursday, but we decided that launching SSL search took priority. :) I also wanted to say thanks and congratulations to the other Googlers (for example Andrew Widdowson, Nathan Dabney, and Murali Viswanathan, but also many, many others) who generously gave their time and effort to make the launch happen and happen smoothly. You might think that switching on SSL for websearch is easy, but for a website with the complexity and scale of Google, it’s really not. The launch wouldn’t have happened without a ton of assistance from Googlers from many parts of the company, and I sincerely appreciate it.

I hope you enjoy https://www.google.com and find it useful.

Live-buzzing Day 2 of the Google I/O keynote

Okay, today I’m going to try something different again. I’m going to try live-buzzing the keynote of Day 2 of Google I/O. You can follow the live-buzz right here.

I’m going to update the buzz as news comes out; if you’re following on the web instead of on Buzz, you might need to hit reload to see updates.

Watch the live-stream video at http://www.youtube.com/user/GoogleDevelopers by the way.

Check out other live-blogging from:
- Engadget
- Search Engine Land
- A live-wave from Lifehacker
- New York Times
- Wall Street Journal

I believe it should be fine to say that I think you’ll like the speed and polish of Froyo. :)

Live-blogging (okay live-waving) Day 1 of Google I/O Keynote

Okay, I’m going to try live-blogging the keynote of Google I/O, but I’m doing it with a twist. I’m going to try live-blogging in Google Wave with some other folks.

Watch the live-stream video at http://www.youtube.com/user/GoogleDevelopers by the way.

Lots of folks will be live-blogging or waving. Here is a different live wave with Gina Trapani, Kevin Marks, Leo Laporte, and Adam Pash, for example.

Danny Sullivan will be live-blogging the keynote over on Search Engine Land. I believe that Tom Krazit is live-blogging the keynote for CNET too.

Here goes my live-wave:

Submit video questions for May 2010

It’s that time! On Monday morning I’ll record some new videos. I created a Google Moderator page where you can post questions or suggestions and vote topics up and down. I won’t be able to answer every single question, but I’ll tackle several popular ones plus a few of the more interesting questions. Please submit questions that lots of people would be interested in, not just a question about your specific site.

Just a reminder: please leave your question on the Google Moderator page, not in the comments here. When you leave a question on the moderator page, people can vote for the questions and I can see which questions people are most interested in.

Site review for Google I/O attendees

If you’re attending Google I/O next week then you might enjoy the SEO site review session that we’ll be doing. If you’ll be attending Google I/O, you can now submit your website for review. I’ll also include the form below:

Added 5/20/2010: The site review is today and we’ve already gotten over 500 sites submitted, so I’m removing the form submission.

By the way, if you’re attending Google I/O you’ll probably want to install the very spiff Android app for it. You can search for [Google I/O] in the Android Market. And if you want to know what to expect in the SEO site review session, here’s the video from the panel we did last year:

If you see me at Google I/O, please say hello and tell me what you wish Google would do that we’re not doing. :)

Added: Note that sites and comments submitted to this form may be publicly reviewed in our site review session.

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