It was only a matter of time really, wasn’t it? Secure connections are the future.

Once Google committed to secure searches (HTTPS) in 2011, which stopped keyword data from being passed into analytics tools, it was clear that they wanted a more secure web – even outside of Google.

HTTPS for SEO – Ranking in Google

Google announced yesterday that they were going to start using secure, encrypted connections (HTTPS) as a ranking signal in their search results. This means that websites that use a 2048-bit security certificate on their websites will now be favoured by the search giant, possibly leading to better search rankings.

Here’s a snippet from the post:

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.

As the post mentions, this is only a lightweight (for now) signal and Google are probably going to gradually increase the weight gained from this signal as more websites make the transition – if they made it a strong signal right away, the whole search landscape could change overnight which would be awkward.

Since this news came out, there’s been lots of talk about it online (not unusual for Google updates) and to my surprise many have been complaining about it. For me, this is a great thing – for all of us.

Embrace the Google Changes

It doesn’t matter how you look at it, a more secure web is better for everyone. Google are the biggest search engine on planet earth for one reason and one reason only – the search experience they provide to users is unrivaled. Say what you like about Google, but the quality of their results (in most instances) simply cannot be matched by competitors and the very thought of using another search engine makes my skin crawl.

To stay ahead of their competitors and continue dominating as a search engine, Google must evolve, and keeping their users safe and promoting a safer web as a whole is great for all of us IMO.

Should this bother us SEOs?

Absolutely not, unless you’re hung up on Google’s control which is just petulant.

As an SEO, a part of our job is to embrace any and all changes made by our master (Google) and stay ahead of them to keep clients ahead of their competitors. It’s not difficult and you shouldn’t be complaining about it like a little bitch every time something changes – adapt or go serve cold burgers at McDonald’s.

Is there a downside to this new signal?

Again, absolutely not, unless you’re too lazy to install an SSL certificate.

It doesn’t matter what kind of website you have (brochure, ecommerce, etc.) as a secure connection is going to protect you from things such as Eavesdropping even when personal information isn’t being transferred.

Ready to HTTPS Your Site?

You’ll need to first purchase an SSL certificate – try Namecheap as they offer a variety of certificates at very affordable prices depending on your needs. I purchased a RapidSSL certificate from Namecheap for one of my websites and it only cost me £6.51 which is fine until I invest in the green address bar.

Installation isn’t quite as easy as purchasing, but it’s certainly doable if you follow the instructions which are provided upon purchasing. There are plenty of handy ‘how to’ guides for you on the internet, too.

Already have an SSL certificate installed on your website?

You can use this handy SSL Test by Qualys which will test your site and provide you with a score based on the level of security your current SSL certificate provides as well as any issues that you need to fix.