In a move to increase online security, Google has announced that it is now using HTTPS as a ranking signal. Webmasters who use HTTPS for their site will experience better rankings than webmasters who continue using HTTP. The HTTPS ranking signal currently has only a very minor effect on search rankings, but Google has said that it will strengthen the effect over time.
Google announced the launch of the HTTPS ranking signal in the official Google Webmaster Central Blog on August 6, 2014. This announcement followed several attempts by Google to encourage webmasters to use HTTPS by default.
A few months prior to introducing the HTTPS ranking signal, Google called for all webmasters to begin using HTTPS by default. In addition, Google has also made resources available to help webmasters prevent security breaches on their sites while also helping them to fix security breaches that have already occurred.
Google has also led by example in introducing this change. Since 2011, all Google services have used the HTTPS protocol. All emails sent using GMail are now encrypted to protect each user's data. In addition, all searches performed since November 2011 have been encrypted, which means that the data is sent securely over the Internet. This change prevented Google Analytics users from being able to see which keywords people were using to research certain topics or search for specific websites, which caused many headaches for SEO specialists.
It is important for webmasters to embrace the new HTTPS ranking signal and ensure that their sites meet all the best practices recommended by Google. A post on the Google Webmaster Central Blog announced the change and recommended that webmasters use 2048-bit certificates. Webmasters also need to understand the different types of certificates, which are single, multi-domain, or wildcard, and they must choose the type that is appropriate for their site. The Google help center provides further advice for webmasters who choose to follow the best online security practices.
The HTTPS ranking signal is currently only a minor factor in determining the ranking of a site. Webmasters also need to ensure they fill their pages with high-quality content that targets relevant keywords. Google webmaster guidelines give plenty of information to help webmasters create high-quality content. The key points to remember are to create content that is original, credible, and valuable to the target audience. By following these basic SEO guidelines, webmasters can attract more organic search engine traffic to their sites.
Google's decision to use the HTTPS ranking signal to give a search engine ranking boost to more secure sites reflects the search giant's commitment to online security. Although the effect of HTTPS on search rankings is currently only very minor, Google has indicated that the impact will increase in the future.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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