Wednesday 03 September, 2014
Google recently announced that sites with HTTPS and SSL certifications will get an SEO boost. This comes as a surprise considering that in the past, murmurings from Google suggested that they were not likely to do this.
According to a blog post by Google Webmaster Trends Analysts Zineb Ait Bahajji and Gary Illyes, “Security is a top priority for Google. We invest a lot in making sure that our services use industry-leading security, like strong HTTPS encryption by default. Beyond our own stuff, we’re also working to make the Internet safer more broadly. A big part of that is making sure that websites people access from Google are secure.”
Considering the above quote, the move makes perfect sense. The idea is to make the internet a safer place. Google wants to lead you to sites that are content-rich, high quality and safe.
Probably, Google has finally come around to this because of the rise of hacking and other threats. These threats pose serious risks for companies, governments and organizations, but also to consumers who use the internet and have to give their sensitive data online.
The Alphabet Soup of Internet Security
The ‘S’ of HTTPS means ‘secure.’ It means that there is an extra layer of encryption between the data and the browser. A regular website sends data across the web in plain text. This makes it easy to read but it also makes it easier to steal this data.
Sites where you have to enter credit card or other sensitive information use HTTPS. When you log on to a secure page on the site, you’ll see the ‘S’ appear at the end. An SSL certificate can be added to a website for even further encryption and safety.
HTTPS for Your Site
If you don’t already use HTTPS encryption, now is the time to start. In fact, if you accept any kind of personal information from people who visit your site, you’re putting them at risk if you don’t.
In its Webmaster Tools, Google stated the following best practices:
* Decide what kind of certificate you need. There are different kinds for single domains, multiple domains and what’s called a ‘wildcard certificate,’ which is basically for an unlimited number of domains.
* Use key certificates that are 2048-bit. This is the recommended spec for the safest encryption possible for HTTPS.
* Use relative URLs for resources on the same secure domain and use protocol relative URLs for all other domains.
* Make sure your site map is configured so that your HTTPS site will be crawled.
If you use HTTPS and SSL, and follow the above guidelines, you’ll get an SEO boost. But this will be a pretty small SEO boost. Google said it will be a ‘lightweight’ ranking indicator, meaning that it will affect only a small percentage of searches. However, it has also indicated that it may strengthen this ranking signal over time.