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Sites That Use HTTPS Now Ranked Higher On Google

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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.

Elaine Chang is our resident SEO geek and expert. She has extensive experience writing about SEO, SEM and all things web.

5 Comments
  • Wayne S

    Makes sense. The more secure your website is, the more likely google is to trust it. Thanks for the tip though. If you can, HTTPS seems to be the way to go at this point.

    • Fargo1

      Spot on. Google takes on less of a liability if they even have any at this point. HTTPS will be common place pretty soon.

  • busybee

    What’s the additional cost or steps needed to have an Https as opposed to http? I want to take this advice, but a lot of it depends on cost or time investment.

    • vader

      I am with you busybee. I am really interested in this option because of the google appeal, but I’m ignorant on how to do it. I would love a post detailing this!

    • Jared Edwards

      Don’t get me wrong. HTTPs is great to have, but if you’re not selling products, I don’t think it’s totally imperative. if you are selling something though where people need to fill out information, I think https is certainly a crucial thing to have.

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Find The Traffic Of Any Website With SimilarWeb

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If you have a particular site you are competing with, or just want to find out the traffic of any website or blog, there are a number of online tools that can help.

Most of them work quite differently from one another, in how they calculate the numbers, but solutions like Alexa, Quantcast, TrafficEstimate and even SEQquake provide valuable insights. Now you can add another neat tool to this list — one that goes by the name of SimilarWeb.

In theory, it is impossible to know exactly how much traffic a website gets, as that information is private to the owners of that particular website.

Tools that promises to provide these numbers does so based on their own research, algorithms and estimates. Some even include logs from Internet service providers in their statistics. Point being, you should always take this data with a grain of salt.

They are guesstimates, at best.

But still a good source to find out website traffic and demographic information. SimilarWeb works the same way, and one advantage it provides (against other such tools) is that a fair amount of data is available for free. Other provides charge monthly fees for access to their statistics.

So simply input the URL of a website that you want to gather some insights on, and the tool will give you a brief report about that site, along with their traffic estimates.

The numbers presented are quite close, though obviously not accurate.

Obviously, the bigger a site, the more precise an estimate it will provide. For example, TechCrunch lists on their ‘Advertise with Us’ page that they receive 34 million monthly page views. And sure enough, SimilarWeb provides numbers in this range.

However a lot of smaller sites are not enumerated, understandably.

As it stands, though, this probably is one of the better traffic estimation tool available online, and you can use it to gather some good results and compare how your sites compare with your competitors.

It also works with mobile apps, so give it a try at this link.

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Research and SEO

New Google Penguin Algorithm Update Being Rolled Out

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A new Google Penguin algorithm update is now rolling out. Although it was delayed by a week or so, the search engine giant has already begun the rollout of its latest Penguin update.

The company officially announced this a few weeks back.

In fact, the slow worldwide rollout began this past Friday, with the objective of reducing even more search spam than before. According to the company, webmasters may already have seen an impact already, though the effects are expected to be more noticeable in the coming weeks.

In the words of Pierre Far, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google:

“On Friday last week, we started rolling out a Penguin refresh affecting fewer than 1% of queries in US English search results. This refresh helps sites that have already cleaned up the webspam signals discovered in the previous Penguin iteration, and demotes sites with newly-discovered spam.”

Sounds pretty solid!

Those of you not in the know, Penguin is the codename for Google’s algorithm that decreases search engine rankings of sites that are found to be violating the Webmaster Guidelines that the company has put in place.

It focuses on artificial methods that are employed to increase the ranking of webpages — manipulation, in other words. Google has updated several of its algorithms these past few months, including a number of updates to Panda.

At the same time, the company has been hunting down individual sites and entire networks that it believes are trying to trick the system.

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Research and SEO

Google Starts Displaying Blog Posts In The “In The News” Box

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The “In the News” area is a highly diverse and decidedly vital section of Google search result pages, and the company has just made a very important change to it.

In addition to just regular news sites, the search engine giant has begun showing additional content in this portion. Content like blog posts, Reddit discussions, even videos. This is sure to open up new possibilities for people and businesses.

Sure, only three news pieces are displayed here, related to the topic — and they don’t appear for all search queries. But this is still an area that people take special note of when searching.

As this report notes, content in this box only came from Google News, meaning only some sites got in on the action, those that had approval from Google. But the company now wants to expand on this, and add in more content from a more diversified range of sources.

A bit of a game changer, this, as the search engine giant states:

“We will be pulling from all over the web which means that we will present as diverse a range of voices as possible to ensure we get users to the answers they are looking for. We are always working to give our users the best possible answer to their questions. That might come in the form of a video, a press release, a blog, a photo, a social media post or a news article.”

Powerful, powerful stuff.

Interestingly, this does tie into the recent algorithm update that Google just pushed out last month, where it said that small and medium sites would benefit from added exposure.

Sure looks like that this welcome move is a part of that puzzle.

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