Recently, Google has decided to crack down on non-HTTPS sites. Or rather benefit those that are using HTTPS as standard. Google are aiming to make the Internet as secure as possible, using strong encouragement and incentives for webmasters who follow suit. It may be that transferring your domain from HTTP to HTTPS will result in a ranking jump that some of your competitors may miss out.
There have been rumblings of something to this effect taking place for a while. Matt Cutts is reported to have discussed exactly this at SMX West in March 2014. At Google I/O, in June 2014, two Google representatives put forward their argument for ‘HTTPS Everywhere’ and the future of secure surfing. And in early August, Google officially announced via its Webmaster Central Blog, that HTTPS had become a factor in rankings. It is believed that this move has been made in response to Heartbleed. This was a bug that is widely touted as having been the biggest security flaw the web has ever seen, which affected nearly half a million sites including Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Dropbox. As with previous Google updates, the search engine says, “Jump!” to which you respond, “how high?” Nor is this the first time that they have cajoled webmasters to adhere to what Google class as ‘web best practices.’ Site speed and the adoption of responsive design were two areas where Google has previously flexed their muscles in this respect. Penalising those that are not quick on the uptake. The below image is a screen grab of a site that uses Flash, and how Google warns against its use on mobile. Is something similar in the pipeline for sites that do not use HTTPS secure servers?
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS combines the SSL/TLS protocol to the internet standard HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) thereby providing a more secure form of communication within the internet infrastructure. Google has been rolling out this secure means of communication across all their various platforms since 2010. It is now used as standard across all Google real estate, including Google Search, Mail and Drive.
How will this affect search?
Google has stated that this update will affect 1% of global searches and so is not the furthest reaching of updates. However, it is worth implementing HTTPS as standard to give your site the best chance of ranking well. But remember, and at risk of sounding like a broken record, quality content is your best route to search ranking stardom..
If you are curious on how to implement this into your search strategy, get in contact with us we have formulated a robust approach and road map for converting from one to the other and would love to discuss this with you further and hare our insights.