Google announced that HTTPS is now a ranking signal used in its algorithm. The company has been pushing the use of HTTPS (HTTP over TLS/Transport Layer Security) for quite some time, and called for "HTTPS everywhere" at Google I/O, so this shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
The company says it's seeing more and more webmasters adopting it, and that over the past few months it's been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure encrypted connections as a signal.
"We've seen positive results, so we're starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal," declares Google in a blog post. "For now it's only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web."
That's good to know. Frankly, I'm surprised they even hinted at how much weight they're giving it.
Google says it will publish detailed best practices to make adoption easier, and to avoid common mistakes, in the coming weeks. It has some initial tips in the blog post linked above.
"Keeping users' data safe is important, and one of the thoughts behind adding HTTPS as a ranking signal in Google's web-search. HTTPS protects the connection to the website through authentication and encryption," says Google's John Mueller.
Google notes that if you're already serving on HTTPS, you can test its security level and configuration using this Qualys Lab tool.
Image via Google