Posted on September 9, 2014
Search engine optimization is constantly changing, and you need to ensure your landing pages are up to date with the latest trends. When Google makes small changes to its algorithm or ranking signals, it can have a ripple effect that impacts a large number of websites.
Google recently changed one of its ranking signals to favor webmasters who use HTTPS – or HTTP with Transport Layer Security - because it’s seen as more secure, according to Web Pro News. Google announced this signal is not very strong right now, but it will be in the future. The search engine is giving webmasters some time to make the shift to HTTPS.
Google uses more than 200 ranking signals to generate search engine results for each user. Even if HTTPS isn’t near the top of the list in terms of priority, the fact that Google expressed it would be in the future is a pretty clear indication that webmasters need to think about it.
Google moved all of its services to HTTPS to provide a safer experience for users, but the company is trying to make the Internet more secure overall, which is an increasing concern as the number of cyberattacks rises.
How to Make the Transition to HTTPS
Most companies want their websites to achieve a high rank, so it may be time to consider switching to HTTPS if you haven’t already, Information Week stated.
Currently, Google reported this ranking signal will impact only 1 percent of searches. Content quality will still be a more important determining factor in page rank.
A website can be incredibly protected and not show up in a results page because it offers weak content. But security is an increasingly essential priority, so webmasters can expect more weight on HTTPS in the not-too-distant future. This level of encryption doesn’t guarantee security, but it is more protection than HTTP.
If you’re thinking about making the switch to HTTPS, there are some important considerations to keep in mind, such as the type of certificate like single, multidomain or wildcard, protocol relative URLs and allowing indexing by search engines.
While this is seen as a good move by Internet security professionals, it doesn’t come without a set of issues. Encrypted sites are beneficial from a security standpoint, but one of the major concerns of switching to HTTPS is the cost of a new certificate.
In addition, this transition can slow down the overall performance of your website, according to News Ledge. Currently, one of the strongest ranking signals is the load speed. To provide a better Web experience, Google will drop pages further down in the rankings if they don’t load within an acceptable timeframe.
This ranking signal has a much higher weight than the level of encryption. Even if the cost of a new certificate wasn’t a concern, a slower page load would be. Google may have to address this issue in the near future.
Depending on your industry, website visitors will rely on authentication because they will want to know they are reading content from a legitimate source. Encryption can give you a benefit in this area.
If your content appears in Google News, HTTPS encryption isn’t expected to have an impact. Some people are frustrated and think encryption shouldn’t matter as long as content on a page is good, but SEO experts will have to wait and see how the change plays out over time. In any case, the move to a safer Internet seems likely to continue.