Google & HTTPS: Not just a recommendation, now a ranking signal

For the last several years, Google has increasingly flirted with the concept of a more secure web and on August 7th, 2014 the flirtation has progressed to something serious.

Google is “working to make the Internet safer more broadly” and has elevated HTTPS beyond a recommendation to its new place as a ranking signal. With the continued proliferation of digital integration into our everyday lives, people are not only in control of their experiences with brands, but also demand a more secure control over their personal information. However, even with popular demand, this is still a remarkable step for Google, who just a few short years ago was unable to crawl secure sites and encouraged heavy testing and consideration before making such a move.

The current effect is “lightweight” affecting 1% of search queries. However, Google also implied that securing their site via HTTPS is a step that they expect Webmasters to take, saying that its light consideration was in order to give Webmasters time to switch to HTTPS, and that they may choose to strengthen it over time.

To make the search experience more secure, Google first began making its search results pages secure in 2011 by 1) securing its search results page, and 2) stripping keyword data from its referral URLs to mask the original term/query used to arrive at a given site. Its users could conduct any kind of search without the fear of exposing their queries or information.

Since then, rumors have abounded about how far Google would take this belief in a secure web. Would it begin to pass query information to sites, which were secure themselves? Would Google take steps to encourage websites to secure their own presence?

Want to learn how this may affect your website? Read our complete POV here.