Well, it’s official folks. It is not always do we get verifications like these from Google, but the search engine giant has just confirmed that it is pushing websites that use HTTPS higher in its search results.
HTTPS, short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, is a protocol for secure online communication. Though technically it is not a protocol at all — this is a technique that simply layers the standard HTTP protocol on top of an SSL/TLS protocol, thereby adding these security capabilities.
But less about protocols, more about the search rankings.
As ZDNet reports, Google has recently adjusted its search ranking algorithm to list sites that use HTTPS higher in its search results pages, than the ones that do not. The company talked about this on its Online Security blog, saying:
“We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal – affecting fewer than one percent of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content – while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS.”
Google plans to extend this practice further in the coming months.
Ultimately, this is a move that will draw praise from most circles, and criticism from some. Website owners will now have an additional overhead if they want to acquire and keep a valid HTTPS certificate. And if this practice is going to increase hosting prices too.
Web servers require higher CPU usage for secure sites, and hosting companies, therefore, charge more for HTTPS. But at the end of the day, it will come down to what kind of usage patterns we see.
Maybe Google could have employed a different strategy, a green check next to a HTTPS link on search engine results pages, or some other way to define these websites. But what is done is done, and what affect this is going to have on the rankings is sure to be evident in the near future.