Google Chrome SSL

Google is considering rewarding websites using quality HTTPS encryption with higher rankings in its search results.

Google has added a security layer to its own social network, email services and storage options. It said that it wants to encourage this across the industry, and will attempt to boost use by rewarding those who use higher security on the websites.

"Beyond our own stuff, we're also working to make the internet safer more broadly. A big part of that is making sure that websites people access from Google are secure. For instance, we have created resources to help webmasters prevent and fix security breaches on their sites," Google said in a blog post.

"We've also seen more and more webmasters adopting HTTPS on their website[s], which is encouraging. For these reasons, over the past few months we've been running tests taking 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."

This view does seem to be a bit ‘the computer says no’ scenario, but at least it’s a start eh?

Currently there isn’t much weight put on encryption use, but Google said it might consider increasing this. "For now it's only a very lightweight signal, affecting less than 1 percent of global queries and carries less weight than other signals such as high-quality content, while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS," it added.

"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."

Although I think “to keep everyone safe on the web” is rather a sweeping statement it’s a good start that Google may use HTTPS as a ranking signal and downgrade sites that are not encrypting connections to their visitors. However, caution that the minimal scope and weighting Google is applying may not be enough of a deterrent for poor security best practice and poorly coded websites that seem to be popping up everywhere.

If you’d like to have a chat about secure website design, or if you'd like to know what HTTPS means and is SSL right for my website? Please call 0845 224 5806 and ask for Kirsty Paget. 

related article: Get HTTPS on websites