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Websites Using Encryption Will Be Given a Boost in Google Search Results

Those of us in the SEO industry often find it a dizzying thrill to keep up with Google and the constant changes they’re making to their search rankings algorithms.

Many of these are minor, subtle adjustments that aren’t announced or widely discussed – they’re simple updates that few, if any, individuals would notice. Others are so significant they have the entire search community in a frenzy, scrambling to determine how they will impact the future of SEO, such as the Google Panda or Penguin updates.

And then there are those specific updates that – while they only concern one aspect of a website, rather than an entire spectrum like content or links – still generate a good deal of eyebrow-raising and discussion amongst those working in search. That’s what the latest news from Google has been doing, with their announcement that encrypted websites will be given a boost in search results.

Here’s some information courtesy of the above link from Search Engine Journal:

Google has been running tests over the past few months using encrypted connections as a ranking signal. After seeing positive results, Google will be using HTTPS as a ranking signal going forward.

Google says that, for now anyway, this is a “very lightweight” signal that will affect fewer than 1% of global queries. While Google gives time for webmasters to move over to HTTPS, HTTPS as a ranking signal will carry less weight than other signals such as high-quality content.

The key takeaway here is the fact that this is a “lightweight” signal. Google currently uses over 200 signals to rank websites, and this is yet another one. That means you don’t have to panic and start scrambling to immediately encrypt your website if you haven’t yet (although it may be a good idea for reasons other than search results – added security is always a plus!)

It’ll be interesting to see how this develops over the next little while, and whether Google decides to give secure search more value in how it ranks websites. For now, however, I imagine we can expect to see several businesses begin the move towards encryption as they begin to include it as a part of their overall SEO strategy.