updated 10:54 am EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
HTTPS use by sites will give slight improvement to Google search results in future
A website's usage of HTTPS to secure a connection with its visitors will soon play a role in search rankings, Google has announced. Websites actively adopting HTTPS by default for all traffic could rank higher in results listings to sites which do not use it, as the company continues to push other services online into adding more security to their sites.
According to a Google blog post spotted by The Next Web, the extra weighting to results is very lightweight, carrying less of an impact on rankings than the contents of the site. While the weighting will only affect fewer than 1 percent of global queries in the short term, Google indicates that this is to give sites time to change from HTTP to HTTPS. "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," states the blog.
In an attempt to help webmasters use TLS, Google promises to publish "best practices" for its adoption in the coming weeks, and has offered a list of basic tips and testing suggestions its implementation.
Google already uses HTTPS on its services, with Gmail users switched over to it by default since March of this year, and has also raised the encryption issue with other companies. A recent transparency report over Transport Layer Security (TLS) for e-mail revealed only 65 percent of outbound messages from Gmail were using it, as TLS requires both the sending and receiving parties to support it to work, while only 50 percent of inbound messages were incrypted. While Gmail supports TLS for all messages, it found that Yahoo was a top performer in both inbound and outbound TLS use, while messages sent to Comcast and Verizon lacked TLS completely.