8 August 2014 | admin

Big changes with Google: HTTPs as a ranking signal

In what appears to be one of the major reshuffles in its algorithm this year, Google has announced on its official webmaster blog that they will be using HTTPs as a ranking signal, albeit in a small way.

This is not something Google has come up with off the cuff. They have been building a case for it through tests on their own services; remember Google rolled out Gmail with default HTTPS in 2011. In some of the more recent examples Google have actively promoted the practise during its annual software conference called Google I/O.

Furthermore, they have been testing on a set of sites with HTTPs as default and Google claims that the experiment rendered very positives outputs in terms of the quality of search resulting into it being a ranking signal, although only affecting 1% of the searches.

Even though Google suggest the effect is small, it will be interesting to note which vertical will witness the most impact. In addition, it will be interesting to learn how the industry adopt the practice because frankly there could be hundreds of other aspects on your site you need to optimise before considering this switch.

It is to be noted that the switch from non-HTTP environment to HTTPs environment comes with significant overheads and Google acknowledges it.  The obvious outcome is that, in its current format,  it triggers the need to create a robust redirection plan and ensuring the established pages don’t end up losing a significant value of their SEO equity.

For further information around the required technology, configuration and performance best practices, please refer to the video above or speak to a specialist to help you draft a plan and enable a smooth switch.

As experts we would have loved if Google had allowed the switch to be much simpler i.e. without it being considered a ‘site move’. Perhaps, Google could consider implementing a segment in the webmaster tools similar to choosing a priority domain.

HTTPS as ranking signal image 1Including this, Google has already implemented 10 other changes in 2014 and it will be interesting for us to review them when we revise our Story of Google algorithm infographic.