Blog | Website Wizardry

Google boosts rankings for websites that use HTTPS (SSL Certificates)

14/08/2014

On Wednesday last week (6th August 2014) Google announced that it has added HTTPS as a ranking signal. This means that websites using HTTPS will have a slight ranking boost over competitors that don’t use it.

Over the past few months Google have been testing how encrypted connections effect their search engine algorithms and have said that they have seen positive results. They mention that the effect is very small (lightweight if I were to use their term), only affecting fewer than 1% of global search queries. In their eyes, they still regards “High-Quality Content” as a better ranking signal.

Google has given some advice to webmasters looking to add SSL encryption to their website. These are:

  • Use 2048-bit key certificates
  • Use relative URL’s for resources that reside on the same domain
    • An example of a relative URL is “/web-development.html”
    • An example of an absolute URL is “http://www.yourdomain.co.uk/web-development.html”
  • Do not block your HTTPS site in your robots.txt file

So, the big question is… How will it work? And what other updates do we have on the ranking signal?

1. Google will run HTTPS ranking signal in real time

Unlike other ranking algorithms, this new HTTPS signal will run in real time. As soon as Google reindexes your https:// website you will see a small boost in your rankings . This bit of information comes from the horses mouth, a full 29 mins in. Watch the snippet here

2. HTTPS ranking is unrelated to Google Panda or other algorithms

Some webmasters feel that the new HTTPS ranking signal was actually part of the panda algorithm, however this is not the case. Google have confirmed that it’s a brand new signal and independent from other ranking signals.

3. This new signal runs on a per-URL basis

If you, like many others, have some parts of your website (ecommerce checkout for example) that use HTTPS then these URLs will already have a slight boost over those that do not. The new signal is on a per-URL basis and not on a site-wide basis.

Do you already serve your content via HTTPS? If you’re not sure you can give your site a quick test here https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/ to check its security level and configuration. If you have any concerns over your sites performance due to its SSL cert have a quick look at https://istlsfastyet.com/.

Now would be the time to consider upgrading to HTTPS if you haven’t already, and as always, if you need any help don’t hesitate to get in touch!