Google Has Turned HTTPS into a Ranking Signal

On its Webmaster Central Blog, Google announced on August 6, 2014 that it will reward websites that use HTTPS by including the designation in its search engine ranking algorithm. HTTPS is secure encryption that layers HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) over TLS (Transport Layer Security), to protect websites and their users against security breaches.

HTTPS has three different layers to protect the user. These include encrypting shared data, authenticating the website, and keeping data from being changed or corrupted. One of the main ways that HTTPS provides security is by protecting private information that your customers or clients share through your website, such as their contact information and their credit card data.

Why Is Google Focusing on HTTPS?

Google says it is looking to make the Internet a safer place through HTTPS and other methods. At the moment, this ranking signal has an effect on under one percent of queries worldwide. Google is still giving more significance to strong content and other factors on a website. But Google says that in the future, it might increase the weight of HTTPS in its rankings so that eventually all sites switch to it. This goal is part of an effort to make the Internet safer as a whole.

What Does This Mean for Your Business?

If your business gets on board and switches to HTTPS, you might be able to rank better in Google search engine results. In addition, HTTPS will help your customers or clients feel safer on your site, so they will be able to trust your site and your company better.

Of course, HTTPS is not new and many businesses already use it to provide a secure site. This is especially the case for companies like e-commerce businesses that sell products through their websites and financial institutions that need to protect transactions containing private financial information. However, many businesses have not seen the need to use HTTPS in the past. While only certain business industries worried about HTTPS before, this change makes it relevant to every type of business.

Google has an incredible influence over website creation, so focusing on HTTPS in its search engine rankings will encourage more businesses to switch to HTTPS and focus on making their websites safer. It’s possible that this ranking system will affect every site on the web at some point. Even if it doesn’t affect your site’s ranking any time soon, your business will need to keep up with other companies as they switch to HTTPS. Over time, it will become more commonplace and your customers or clients will expect it of you.

To make the switch to HTTPS, you will need to get a site certificate. Google explains that you should use 2048-bit key certificates and that you will have to determine whether you need a single, multi-domain or wildcard certificate. You should also follow certain practices, such as using relative URLs for resources on your protected domain, avoiding using robots.txt to block your site from crawling and letting search engines index your page. Google provides a resource in its Help Center to change your URLs to HTTPS and if you need some help making the switch, Google shares some information to assist you in its Help Center.

About Steve Baik is a pioneer in the free search engine submission industry and has been providing valuable web tools and resources for small business owners since 1996. Sign up for our free newsletter to receive the latest info on SEO and Internet Marketing.
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