Last year, Google introduced SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption to searches made through Google.com. Now, the effort to strengthen user privacy through encrypted search queries is becoming global, and Google hopes this will “motivate other companies to adopt SSL more broadly.”

Note that countless users have their own concerns with Google and how it handles user data. SSL obviously can’t solve issues of trust, and that’s a separate issue. As far as keeping users safe from outside threats, this is a solid move.

The announcement, from Google Software Engineer, Michael Safyan:

Several months ago we made a change to our default search experience on google.com — when you’re signed into Google, we add SSL encryption to increase the privacy and security of your web searches. The change encrypts your search queries and our search results page, which is particularly important when you’re using an open, unsecured Internet connection.

We’re now ready to expand this protection, so over the next few weeks we will begin introducing SSL search beyond google.com to our local domains around the globe. As before, we hope that these efforts to expand the use of SSL encryption in our services motivate other companies to adopt SSL more broadly.

As noted in the release above, the new feature will roll out over the following weeks globally. It’s hard to say how much pressure this will actually put on third parties to encrypt their own user data, but the decision is certainly setting an important precedent.

Further down the road, Google is surely planning to tout its security, but for now it’s simply advocating standards.