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

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15 Responses to Google Has Turned HTTPS into a Ranking Signal

  1. Tiana Harris says:

    Thanks for the information. I didn’t know that.

  2. Sharron says:

    Is it an SSL certificate you will need to get? I looked at this a couple of years ago you can get a 30 day free trial from most providers. Once your 30 days are up you will need to ensure you pay because if you don’t a warning comes up to customers accessing your site to warn them they may not be visiting a safe site as the certificate has run out. You wll also have to get your hosting company to set this up for you once you have purchased the certificate. It’s definitely something I will be looking into again, thanks for the warning!

  3. Steve says:

    I don’t think its the right idea, as https is not necessary always for every website. Though its important for those websites which are selling online and getting payment directly on their own websites. As far as I know the HTTPS also slower the websites. So i think this will fade away soon or later!

    Though thanks for sharing this information, I think we now have to start focusing on this part as well.

  4. In my opinion HTTPS should be a ranking signal. If you can’t abide by the simple precepts listed by google webmasters then your site should stay unlisted until you get with the program. lol.

  5. I have read a few case studies in the last few days about people who are experimenting if HTTPS is indeed already a ranking signal. Most were very disappointed in the results as switching also means redirecting which results in a small loss of power due to the damping factor.

    Very curious about this move and if it really will become a ranking factor in the future…

    Greetings from Innsbruck,

    Alexander Rus

  6. Alex Loxton says:

    Thanks for giving useful information on using HTTPs for the website. Using HTTPs ensure the customer that they are browsing the safe site. Also, the recent announcement of Google that website has an edge over others in ranking if you are using HTTPs will encourage more and more website to use HTTPs.

  7. Kered Pople says:

    Https seems rather useless for all websites, what’s the point of implementing a secure encryption on a cooking blog with 3 posts monthly? I know they want to start focusing on web safety more and more but this will affect rankings and a lot of major websites could stand to suffer.

    • I totally agree. I have a blog that just shared information, and nobody logs in or anything, so putting extra strain that could slow down my server seems rather unnecessary.

  8. Hi Steve,

    first of all, thank you for sharing this info. Reading the post I read that, despite of having a better ranking switching to https://, someone doesn’t suggest to use it because of slower web performances.

    Therefore while it can be a good suggestion for e-commerce websites, what do you think about https:// for blogs?

    • Steve Baik says:

      As most people have mentioned, HTTPS isn’t necessary on all types of sites. For example, an informational site like a blog or a dictionary does not need this because there is no sensitive information being transmitted.

      With that said, it still doesn’t change the fact that Google is using it as a ranking signal. We don’t all have to agree with their decision, but it is their decision.

  9. I think https is great for eCommerce, but it still doesn’t really make sense for users just browsing the site, in my opinion. It is, however, a ranking signal, so maybe I need to get on board

  10. PRO SEO says:

    I’ve tried converting some of my site to SSL, to be honest I didn’t see any change. Could have been just me but who knows.

  11. Sam Darcy says:

    I only noticed a shift in position on one of my sites, we transferred all our client sites to https i think Google see’s it as more secure and safer so will probably add some credit to your ranking maybe i’m not sure, might try it on few blog sites see if it increases ranking.

  12. AFL Live says:

    Yes, I researched last week from google content and have learned about the necessity of https. My website hasn’t https and the lower ranking website has jumped up.

  13. Sergei says:

    Yes, if your site ain’t secure it will get less traction from this July!

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