Algorithm Rolled Out: August 2014
Algorithm Summary: Overall Gist
Google began evaluating HTTPS as a ranking factor in August 2014. If a website uses the HTTPS protocol, its Google ranking may have risen slightly. Although adding HTTPS as a ranking factor was a surprise, Google has long professed a desire to make the web a user-friendly environment for its users. In recent years, it has made enormous efforts to encrypt most of its services, including Gmail, Google Drive, and even the search results themselves, leading to the development and rise of the feared keyword data “not given.”
What precisely is HTTPS?
HTTPS is a communications protocol for transmitting data over the internet, similar to the HTTP protocol. The distinction between HTTPS and HTTP is the encrypted and eavesdrop-proof data transmission over SSL/TLS, an encryption protocol in and of itself. Without encryption, any data communicated over the internet can be viewed in plain text and is vulnerable to manipulation or alteration by third parties. When web admins use an SSL certificate to provide HTTPS access, all communication and conversations on the website are encrypted before they are transmitted.
What effect did the HTTPS Ranking Factor Update have?
The HTTPS Ranking Factor Update was its algorithm, not a component of the Google Panda Updates, for example. The algorithm works on a per-URL basis and is applied to Google’s existing Search Index or the indexed data for a domain. The web browser must validate the certificate in use. If a warning is returned, Google receives a negative signal, and the HTTPS ranking factor is not used.
Is HTTPS considered a ranking factor?
Google does not explicitly state anything about HTTPS and ranking criteria (Jan 2021), although it does give recommendations that it should always follow. We recommend you use HTTPS to secure your users’ connections to your website, regardless of the content.
Should Every Website Use HTTPS?
Google presented HTTPS as a “lightweight signal” in its formal release, highlighting the greater relevance of other variables such as high-quality content. As a result, web admins should not feel obligated to implement this adjustment immediately and should consider the possible benefits site by site.
Because of the more direct relationship between user security, trust, and online transactions, installing HTTPS may be a higher priority for firms dealing with financial or other personal data. Others may not place the same value on its introduction; in that case, including it in feature website builds may be a more appropriate response.
The rush to implement HTTPS has already caused problems for several websites, notably theguardian.com, which wrongly configured its security certificate. As a result, the website displayed a warning message to users, which had a negative impact that far outweighed any potential ranking benefits.