Google confirms HTTPS as a ranking signal
Having already shown a slight willingness to favourably rank sites which use HTTPS, Google appears to be further incentivising the secure comms protocol, in a bid to enhance its usage across the web.
Google has recognised the increased implementation of Transport Layer Security (TLS) on the part of webmasters on their sites, and as such ran trials in recent months to see the effects of “secure, encrypted connections” as an indicator in search ranking algorithms.
As their findings were positive, Google have stated they will now use HTTPS as a ranking signal. As it is in its preliminary stages of implementation, it will be a fairly minor signal, compared with ranking factors such as high quality content, but Google will hope that a great influx of webmasters begin to deploy TLS.
In their blog release, Google trend analysts, revealed their long term ambitions rooted in this initial move. They said: “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.”
Zineb Ait Bahajji & Gary Illyes, Google trend analysts’, pledged that Google would be bringing out comprehensive best practices to aid in the widespread adoption of TLS, and so webmasters would be able to sidestep customary pitfalls.
In their Online Security Blog post, the aforementioned trend analysts’ specified seven tips which would aid in the conversion to HTTPS.
They stressed the need for webmasters to permit search engines to index their sites pages at all feasible times, and, as such, not deploy the noindex robots meta tag and any crawling-inhibitor, for instance the use of robots.txt.
Other snippets of advice include using a 2048-bit key certificates, the use of relative URLs for resources located on the same domain, and the deploy of protocol-relative URLs for all other domains.
Additionally, choosing the type of certificate you need, whether that be single, multi-domain or wildcard certificate.
According to the trend analysts’, those currently using TLS and seeking aid in the testing of their security level & structure can use the Qualys Lab Tool.
There has been an underlying feeling in the Search community, for years now, that Google has been endorsing greater HTTPS usage. As recently as April, reports emerged that Google was favouring search results which used encryption, however when questioned, representatives of Google declined to comment.
However, Pierre Far’s conference entitled ‘HTTPS everywhere’ ast the Google I/0 2014 conference cemented what many people have believed for a long time: HTTPS is here and its significance cannot be circumvented.