Soon, websites that feature HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) encryption by default will be featured higher in Google rankings than those websites without it.
The search engine website Google announced this news in a recent blog post which was focused on the security of its future products and services. In this blog post Google commented that “security is a top priority for Google” and that they are “working to make the Internet safer more broadly”.
Google is described by Wikipedia as a website that “hunts for text in publicly accessible documents offered by web servers, as opposed to other data, such as image or database search”. Currently, Google rankings work based on how ‘relevant’ Google’s algorithm (called PageRank) rates a website. If a website is deemed to have more algorithms, it will rank higher than one that doesn’t. These algorithms read through the code of a website and picks up specific information, phrases and keywords to match what the user has ‘searched’.
As Google is one of the highest used search engines available, webmasters have become wise to how Google’s algorithms operate and actively incorporate specific tactics to counteract other websites and appear higher in Google rankings. These tactics are known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) methods.
By announcing that websites with HTTPS will automatically feature higher in Google rankings, webmasters will be keen to ensure this security feature will be incorporated on their websites. This is because the higher a website features on Google ranking; the higher probability a user will select it and visit the website in question.
HTTPS is a communication protocol tool that enables secure communication over a computer network. Its security features means it is often used to prevent man-in-the-middle, wiretapping and other hacker inspired attacks. It works by scrambling any digital data communicated between one user’s device and an online service halting anyone who would potentially try to ‘listen in’ on the ‘conversation’.
Currently HTTPS isn’t a required feature and so is only facilitated on websites that have specifically enabled it. With the news however that it will increase a websites Google ranking position, Google predicts it will “encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web”.
In the next few weeks, Google aims to release “best practice” HTTPS methods for websites, some of which include:
- “Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate
- Use 2048-bit key certificates
- Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
- Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains
- Check out our Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address
- Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
- Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag”