Google is using search engine results as an incentive to encourage websites to become more secure on the web. According to a blog post by Google, “security is a top priority.” Beyond just making Google products safe and secure for users, Google is taking extra steps to make everything on the web outside of Google safer as well.
Those who adapt to adding HTTPS (a protocol for secure communications on the internet) will be rewarded with an extra boost in search rankings.
“Over the last few months, we’ve been running tests into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.”
Google is claiming that the signal is lightweight (affecting fewer than 1% of global queries) and that this signal will carry less weight than other signals such as high-quality content. At least for right now, it looks like Google is giving webmasters a grace period to step it up and switch from HTTP to HTTPS.
What is Encrypted Data, Anyway?
Google is strongly encouraging web developers to incorporate the SSL/TLS (Transport Layer Security) to encrypt search traffic. Encrypted data is transmitted over the Internet and adds an extra barrier between web users and the bad hackers and snoopers that want to steal that data. You’ll find that all sites that ask for your credit card information will be encrypted. You can always tell this by looking the URL of the page. If it says HTTPS in front of it, that means it’s secure.
Encryption on websites will also help protect users who may be on unsecure Wi-Fi networks in airport and coffee shops, for example. According to Wall Street Journal, the reasons many webmasters shy away from encrypting websites in the past was because of the added cost and slow website load times. However, with today’s encryption technologies available, cost and slow response time shouldn’t be an issue anymore.
It’s Google’s way to “keep everyone safe on the web.” And it looks like Google has been favoring encrypted sites as early as April 2014. Even though the signal is a light one, Google plans on increasing the weight of this ranking signal over time.
While this is an important component to add to any website, the quality of your web content will remain the biggest influencer in search engine results, at least for now. Websites that are constantly looking for that edge to ensure high search rankings will have to invest in website encryption. Even though it may cost owners extra money, it may not be as costly as losing years of work ranking high in Google’s court.