What You Need to Know About Google’s HTTPS and SSL Update of 2014

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Google announced a new algorithm update in August of 2014 that will give preference to secure sites using HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). Google hopes that it will offer a very small rank boost to sites with added encryption now and a larger boost to rank in future updates, should this change make the positive impact they hope for.

Google Boosts Page Rank for Secure Sites

Google considers internet security a top priority, even investing in industry-leading security protocol advancements such as HTTPS in 2010 and creating open source resources to help webmasters prevent and fix security breaches on their sites. Beyond investing in the creation of security protocols, Google is making a bold move this year (2014) to promote internet safety by giving preference in search rank to sites which use security protocols HTTPS and SSL over TLS (Transport Layer Security).

Over the past few months, webmasters have seen slight hiccups and boosts to their HTTPS sites because Google has run tests on their search algorithm. Since Google has seen positive results when using HTTPS as a ranking signal, they have decided to make it a very light permanent boost in search results. “Light” means that it should not affect more than 1% of all global search queries and the change will carry less weight than other algorithm signals--such as quality of content, loading speed, or page layout markers.

Google does seek to make the HTTPS boost stronger over time to give website owners time to make the switch from HTTP. In the future, Google would like to encourage the use of HTTPS to promote a more secure internet experience. They foresee the possibility of faster browsing and download speeds, which could enable hackers to decrypt file packets about as fast as they are sent to the recipient computer. Promoting newer internet securities protocols is one way Google hopes to stay ahead of hackers and other phishing attempts.

Making Your Website Safer

To get this page rank traffic boost you can implement a few basic guidelines onto your website. If your website is already using HTTPS, simply use the Qualys Lab Tool to test its security level and make any adjustments to ensure its internet safety.

Here are some basic tips to get started building a safer higher-ranked website:

  • Adopt 2048-bit Key certificates.
  • Buy a single, multi-domain, or wild-card certificate.
  • Allow indexing of your site by search engines as much as possible.
  • Don't use robots.txt or norobots.txt codes.
  • Use relative URLS for resources within the same domain.
  • Use Protocol Relative URLS for other domains.

HTTPS Usage by Google

This HTTPS and SSL update falls in line with Google's introduction of HTTPS back in 2010. Since 2010, many other websites began following suit using HTTPS and other secure protocol transfer systems. Secure data transfer is now used for many Google products, such as SSL search, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google+, and Gmail. Depending on which browser a customer uses to access websites, secure connections now have a green address bar, padlock, or key. Google is hoping their demonstration of forward secrecy becomes the internet norm. By giving precedence to HTTPS and other secure data transfer protocols, Google hopes to demonstrate their vision of a safer internet browsing future.

Metin Sonmez
Elbrus Solutions

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