Google has announced that HTTPS — HTTP Secure, or HTTP over Transport Layer Security — will be used as a ranking signal.
Google, the undisputed leader of global search, tinkers with its algorithm on a daily basis. Part of being in the SEO world means staying up-to-date on Google’s various machinations, in an attempt to understand what ranking signals are being used and how we can take advantage of them for our websites.
Last week, Google tossed us an intriguing nugget of info. In their Webmaster Central Blog, they stated that the company wants to emphasize information security online, and ensure that “websites people access from Google are secure.” To that end, they announced that HTTPS — HTTP Secure, or HTTP over Transport Layer Security — will be used as a ranking signal.
HTTPS helps to secure and encrypt information sent over a computer network. We’ll spare you the details of how, exactly, it works. Suffice to say, websites with the HTTPS protocol are much more secure than websites without it, and can transmit data — especially from website visitors — in a secure fashion to thwart cyber attacks and information theft.
An increasingly large number of websites have adopted HTTPS over the past few years. Your bank probably uses HTTPS. Facebook uses HTTPS. A host of websites are moving over to this standard, which will result in more cyber security in general.
Implications of HTTPS as a Signal
Now, HTTPS will be used as a ranking signal, which will help determine which websites appear at the top of the search engine results pages for a given search. Google states that this signal will impact only one percent of queries so far, but that percentage could increase as Google gives webmasters more time to switch to the more secure protocol.
What does this mean for you? While it’s not a game-changer at the moment, this new ranking signal will be increasingly important. You should consider adopting the HTTPS protocol for your website, which will offer more security for any data transmitted via your website. It’ll also save your website from being dinged by Google over the next year as it incorporates this new ranking signal into its algorithms.
SEO is constantly evolving. We’ll keep on top of this and future changes so that you can adjust, adapt, and compete.