Google is continuing its mission to make the web a safer and more private place, confirming that securely hosting a site with HTTPS is now part of their organic search ranking algorithm.
What is HTTPS?
When a site uses HTTPS, the information sent between the visitor’s browser and the website is secured via Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS). Any data transmitted between the visitor and the website is encrypted and protected from modification, corruption, or ‘man in the middle‘ attacks.
From Google’s official announcement:
“…we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”
The writing is on the wall, it’s not a big factor right now, but Google is putting webmasters on notice, they are planning on cranking up effect.
Google also provides the following suggestions:
- Use 2048-bit key certificates
- Check out Google’s site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address
- Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
- Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible.
- Avoid the noindex robots meta tag.
We’d also add a tip, once you’ve moved to HTTPS, make sure you put server-side 301 redirects in place. This will preserve existing external links pointing to your site.
Our advice: if you’re not currently using HTTPS, consider moving across. You may get a small boost with first mover’s advantage, and it will be a bigger factor going forward.
Just keep in mind that this is just one of hundreds of signals Google considers in its search ranking algorithm – this one change will not get #1 rankings alone.