Encrypt Your Site for Better Rankings
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is all about ranking highly in the search results, increasing traffic and improving conversions. So every piece of information you can find that helps your rankings increase, gives you an edge against your competition.
In 2010, Google announced the introduction of HTTPS by default for Gmail and encrypted searches and then in 2011, they introduced forward secrecy on services such as Google docs. Now, in 2014, they have decided to include the standard into their ranking algorithms. Currently this effects only 1% of global searches, but as Google constantly changes and adapts their algorithms, who knows how much weight they will place on HTTPS in the future?
Why is HTTPS so important?
Google wants to make the internet safer for everyone and the one aspect they can influence is the security of websites accessed via Google. HTTPS focuses on the data flow between the client and the server. Google wants everyone to use this type of encryption.
This means that only the server and your browser can decrypt your information. Take a simple example like email, if the security of an email is compromised, with HTTPS this does not affect the security of all your other emails, either within the same time frame or in the future.
Unfortunately, many websites do not use this level of security. So whilst emails and other types of information might be secure today, as technology advances, the potential for breaking the server’s secure encryption key and retrospectively accessing historical emails is quite real.
Some people might not be too worried about emails, but most of use our email to reset our passwords on websites. Does your online bank come to mind? Decrypting your emails can give hackers your passwords for just about every single website you access – not a great thought.
So in 2011, Google included forward secret HTTPS for Gmail, Search, Docs and Google+. You can easily check whether you are covered in Chrome by clicking the green padlock in the browser of HTTPS sites and look for Google’s key exchange mechanism ‘ECDHE_RSA’.
The potential impact of these changes
These latest announcements occurred in August 2014. So Google is now using HTTPS as a ranking signal, albeit a low level signal, but nevertheless it is now included in Google’s ranking algorithms.
What this means for website owners is that HTTPS is becoming more important. You need to ensure that when a visitor subscribes to your eNewsletter that their information is secure, both now and in the future. So you need to move your URL from HTTP to HTTPS, which will protect the integrity of your own information as well as that belonging to visitors on your website. This helps to build trust with your customers, which encourages them to return, resulting in increased traffic and conversions.
The fact that moving to HTTPS also adds to the mix of factors Google uses to rank websites, is the cherry on the cake and a welcome bonus. Historically, HTTPS has been less than easy to implement and was known to slow down websites. However, with improvements in hardware and SSL solutions, this is becoming less costly and easier to implement.
Co-founder of Cornerstone and web junkie, Michael knows just how to diagnose your online problems and remedy the issue. An online enthusiast who believes in technology as an enabler of growth, Michael worries about all the details so you don't have to.