HTTPS as a Ranking Signal For SEO

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This week Google announced that going HTTPS, the “S” standing for secure, will give your website a minor boost in rank. Having HTTPS in your URL, as opposed to HTTP, will indicate to Google that your website uses secure, encrypted connections to transmit pages and exchange data. Your website will then be looked upon more favourably than those that don’t by Google’s search engine.

Google have noted that HTTPS will be a weak signal while they allow time for webmasters to make the switch, but over time may increase the weight HTTPS carries in an effort to keep everyone safe on the web.


The Benefits of HTTPS

  • Greater security & privacy
  • Users more likely to share payment or personal information
  • Reduced risk of third party information misuse

How to Check For a Secure URL

If you have any concerns about a website being secure, you can type ‘https://’ at the beginning of the web address, if you see a lock icon you can then click on the icon to confirm a secure connection. If there is no lock icon, then the page is not HTTPS secure.

It is important to note at this stage, that not all pages on a website are secure. For example, it is not uncommon that when shopping online, the only pages on the website to be HTTPS will be the pages that require credit card and/or personal information.

Everyday websites that are HTTPS by default include:

  • Google Mail (since 2011)
  • Facebook (since July 2013)
  • Yahoo (since March 2014)

Make Your Site HTTPS Secure

To go HTTPS with your website you will need to get an SSL certificate. This is an electronic document that verifies your business identity and allows your host server to establish a secure encryption with a visitor’s web browser. There are many SSL certificate providers available, with prices starting at $100 per year. It is best to check what your host server has to offer or a quick Google to find a suitable option, and install the SSL certificate on your web server.

There are many SSL providers and numerous web hosts, therefore the installation method may vary, though the provider should offer sufficient support and installation advice. We recommend installing the certificate on every page of the site, as HTTPS pages will be looked on more favourably by the Google algorithm. Only adding the SSL certificate to certain pages such as, ‘checkout’ or ‘subscribe’ will only give a boost to those pages.

Once your SSL certificate is securely installed throughout your website, we advise editing links to pages so that they load securely. Change the URLs of each page so that they read “https://” as oppose to “http://”  and test the URLs by accessing your website from another browser, remember if you spot the lock icon, click on it for confirmation that your site connections are secure.

What Affect Will “HTTPS://” Have On My SEO?

  • A small, tiny boost in rank will likely occur as soon as Google indexes your new HTTPS URL
  • Per URL basis – Only the secure pages on your site will likely see this small boost

“For now it’s only a very lightweight signal… But over time, we may decide to strengthen it”

– Google

It’s not often that Google provides ranking tips for SEO, which is why we can predict that secure URLs will become a permanent factor in website rank. Unfortunately we cannot predict when (if ever) this is likely to carry more weight, as this will possibly be the only information Google provides.

Encouraging websites to use secure, encrypted servers is good news for search users everywhere and reiterates the Google policy of providing the best quality search results for users.


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