Google is constantly changing the SEO game for website owners, making it increasingly difficult to achieve the number one spot on their search results pages. The most recent change came last week, when Google announced it would now be ranking sites with ‘https://’ higher in it’s search ranking results.
From now on Google will be including https:// as a factor when ranking sites for its search results pages.
Making the web a safer place
Security is and always has been one of Google’s top priorities, with the company investing in HTTPS encryption as standard. With one of their goals being to make the internet a safer place for web users, Google wanted to make sure that the sites users were accessing from their search results were equally as secure. Along with creating resources to help webmasters fix and prevent security breaches, they have now taken things a step further and announced https:// as one of their ranking signals – something which they usually keep hush hush about!
The aim is basically to encourage webmasters all over the world to adopt HTTPS and greatly improve security for those visiting their websites.
‘A lightweight signal’
After receiving positive results in tests that took encrypted connections into account when ranking sites, Google decided to start using HTTPS as a ranking signal. As it currently stands, the search engine claims that it is only a lightweight signal and thus so far is only affecting less than one per cent of global queries. Google has also made the point that other ranking signals such as unique, high quality content still have more weight than HTTPS.
Over time it is likely that the search engine will strengthen encrypted connections like HTTPS as a signal, so it is advised that webmasters switch from http:// to https:// in the near future.
Is your website as secure as it could possibly be?
Guidelines for securing your website
The search engine has announced that they will soon be publishing a detailed list of best practices in order to assist those looking to switch from HTTP to HTTPS. The best practices will make it easier for website owners to boost the security of their website and prevent them from making common mistakes. For now they have outlined a few basic tips, which we have featured below.
- Decide what kind of certification your site requires (single, multi-domain, wildcard certificate)
- Use 2048-bit key certificates
- Make sure you use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
- Do not block HTTPS site from search engine crawling using robots.txt
- Avoid using the noindex robots meta tag – you must allow indexing of your pages for this to work
Is https:// an essential feature?
Google giving away any SEO tips is a rarity, so in cases like this when they do, it is important to sit up and take notice! Whilst some believe this is simply a ploy by Google to get people to spend more money and make things more complex, it’s one of those cases where if you don’t do it, you could risk being overtaken by a competitor that has, in the near future.
Although it has been questioned whether Google is implementing this algorithm change as a way to keep webmasters on their toes, you could look at it as their way of making the internet a safer and more secure place for users. Here at Online Media Direct we always advise our clients to stay on the right side of Google and therefore encourage users to switch to HTTPS if they want to improve their website’s SEO and create a securer environment for site visitors.
This is an interesting and bold move by Google and one that is doubted by some, yet welcomed by many. For more information about securing your website and making SEO improvements, feel free to get in touch.