About a month ago, Google's head of webspam Matt Cutts said at the Search Marketing Expo that he'd like to see Google make SSL site encryption a signal in Google's ranking algorithm.
Barry Schwartz at SMX sister site Search Engine Land wrote at the time, "Let me be clear, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, did not say it is or it will be part of the ranking algorithm. But he did say that he personally would like to see it happen in 2014. Matt Cutts is a senior Google search engineer that has opinions that matter, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Google does announce in 2014 that this is a ranking factor – but it is far off and may never happen."
It doesn't look like anything new has really happened with this yet, but the Wall Street Journal has a new report out reaffirming Cutts' desire for such a signal:
Cutts also has spoken in private conversations of Google’s interest in making the change, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person says Google’s internal discussions about encryption are still at an early stage and any change wouldn’t happen soon.
A Google spokesman said the company has nothing to announce at this time.
Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan is quoted in the article, and makes a pretty valid point that Google adopting such a signal could "cause an immediate change by all the wrong sites" - those specifically trying to game Google.
Of course as head of webspam, something tells me Cutts has considered this. If it is to become a signal, it's likely not going to carry a huge amount of weight. Google will still always want to provide the best user experience and content to users. At least that's what their official stance will be.
Even if the motivation is to improve search rankings, sites making themselves more secure can't be a bad thing (until it is). But then, one has to wonder if Google will launch another algorithm update to penalize sites that are making themselves more secure just to influence search rankings just as it penalizes those who try to get links to get better search rankings. I wonder how that would work.
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