Published: 11 August 2014
On Wednesday, Google announced that they will begin using website encryption aka HTTPS as a lightweight ranking signal. There were murmurings of this change so this hasn’t come as a massive surprise but it does mean that developers that perhaps thought they could do without increasing security measures or were not in need of encryption, may have to think again.
There has been a case of Chinese whispers online today, with the word spreading that this is a serious ranking factor and that http sites will be penalised but this isn’t the case. For the moment, Google are using https as a lightweight ranking signal and say that it will affect 1% of queries globally.
So what does this mean? Well it means that other ranking factors still hold a lot more weight at this moment in time like quality of content and a clean backlink portfolio, with the idea being that Google gives webmasters time to switch to encryption. However this does suggest that overtime, there is potential for encryption to become a more influential ranking signal as Google focus more on website security.
Google have had an increased focus on security in recent months and have made the development of encrypting traffic between its own servers. At the end of last year we saw Google change all queries on the search engine to HTTPS regardless of being signed in or not and Gmail now always uses an encrypted HTTPS connection.
On Google’s Webmaster Blog post they have also said that they will provide detailed best practices for website developers on how to best implement HTTPS (Also knows as HTTP over TLS or Transport Layer Security) and make adoption easier. They have also suggested that you can test the level of security of your current site using Qualays Lab Tools if you are already using HTTPS.