Google is using SSL as a factor in their ranking algorithm

According to a recent post on the official Google Webmaster Central Blog, they’ve announced big news that is going to have some webmasters scrambling to get SSL / TLS functioning on their websites. At a recent conference, the search engine giant made a call for HTTPS everywhere. To help speed that process along, Zineb Ait Bahajji and Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analysts, have said that Google is going to start using whether or not a site is using HTTPS as a ranking signal.

The move will only affect about 1% of searches – at first. This will give webmasters time to take action. Eventually, they are going to be using it as a more important ranking signal. As you may or may not know, Google uses hundreds of indicators to decide which websites show up in the rankings of their search engines. And if you’re not able to get on the first page somewhere, the chances of your website being found go down dramatically.

Google will be releasing more information on this over the coming weeks and months most likely, but they did point out these basic tips for using TLS / SSL technology online.

  • 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.

TechCrunch has an article about this as well. As the announcement was just made by Google, you can be sure that a lot of bloggers, pundits and SEO experts are going to be discussing this quite a bit in the near future. However, it’s a good idea to start putting together a plan for your website(s) right now. If Google has announced this change, you can be sure that they’re serious about using SSL/ TLS as a ranking indicator.

At the time of writing this article, Google’s official blog post on the matter has over 1,500 comments with more coming all the time. Many are saying that they aren’t surprised and saw this coming for a while. The smart webmasters are already planning to make changes so that they don’t start ranking worse because of not using SSL / TLS to protect data going to and from their web server.

Ever since it was found out that the NSA was “tapping the cables” to gather information on anyone and everyone they could online, Google and many, many other people were not happy with what’s happening. The push to protect information online is important, and it’s good to see Google stepping forward to help. When they utter a commandment, webmasters around the world jump into action. And in this case, it could lead to a more secure web for all.

What do you think? Leave us a comment below and let us know your thoughts on this big move from Google. Are you planning on switching to HTTPS sooner? If so, can help.

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