SECURE SITES NOW RECEIVE RANKING BOOST FROM GOOGLE
Yesterday, Google posted on the Webmaster Central Blog that they would be utilizing HTTPS/SSL as a ranking signal - providing a boost to those sites that utilize these security measures. Normally I don't write much about newsy SEO items, but this one caught my attention as Google doesn't often declare what signals they are using to rank websites. When they do, it always piques my curiosity.
Personally, I highly doubt the move is all about improving search results which is supposed to be what drives these changes. In fact, a great comment in the Q&A with Google's John Meuller by Nathan Grimm summed up some of my own thoughts:
The fact is, when Google bothers to declare that something is a signal, it's too strong of a "signal" to me that something else is behind the move besides just improving search results. When site speed was declared to play a role in rankings, and not just any rankings but in mobile results specifically, I pondered exactly why they'd chosen to make that a big deal. My guess at this point is that mobile traffic is growing, yes, so it's important to make a good user experience (so they can make more money), but specifically Google is working to grow in countries outside the U.S. There's more market share to be gained in India, or other even more developmental countries where mobile devices are utilized more. Gain market share here = more money. To do that, you need to deliver a good mobile experience which includes fast sites - especially important if their connection speeds are slower (not saying that's the case in this example).
Why is Google mentioning this and where's the $$? Why is secure so important? While it may be as simple as helping them improve results by ensuring there's less spam/hacked garbage in their index, I'm not sure if that's it. I'll be continuing to ponder this one and play with different ideas. I'm curious to hear other thoughts though on why you think this change was made AND they bothered to announce it/make it a big deal.
If you're interested in learning more, here's a quick recap of some sources:
- http://searchengineland.com/google-starts-giving-ranking-boost-secure-httpsssl-sites-199446 - SEland recap
- https://plus.google.com/+JohnMueller/posts/e8bx5tLpvtm - John mueller Hangout
- http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2014/08/https-as-ranking-signal.html - webmaster central post
If you're interested in moving your site to be secure, here are a few helpful resources:
- (from SEland article) "Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate
- Use 2048-bit key certificates
- Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
- Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains
- Check out our site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address
- Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
- Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag."
- https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6073543 - updated info on HTTPS from Google's perspective
- https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6033049 - updated info on site moves