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Google to favour secure websites in search rankings

Caroline Baldwin

Google is beginning to favour secure websites, and is ranking them higher on its search engine.

Google search ranking algorithms will now start taking into account whether websites have encrypted connections, using Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) as a ranking signal.

The Google Inc. logo displays in building 43

In a blog post, Google said it wanted to ensure the websites people access through Google are secure.

The also post said that the company is working to make the internet safer.

Websites with an HTTPS prefix, rather than HTTP provide more secure communications over the internet. The encryption is widely used, mostly by websites where users have to sign in or provide any data – back in 2011, Twitter increased its security with HTTPS encrypted tweets setting. HTTPS means that interactions are encrypted so that cyber criminals are less likely to hack into your data.

Google said it has seen more and more sites adopt the HTTPS prefix but, while it encourages others to switch to HTTPS, the search ranking signal will not have a detrimental ranking effect on non-compliant websites right away.

“For now it's only a lightweight signal – affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content – while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS.”

But Google said it may over time decide to strengthen this signal, which would mean that website owners would have to increase their site encryption to HTTPS or be found lower down the Google page rankings.

Google does not say how this ranking might affect websites, such as blogs which do not necessarily need a secure HTTPS prefix because they do not exchange information with users. Indeed, the Blogger platform Google used to post the news had only an HTTP prefix, which was pointed out by readers in the comments section.

Google said it would publish best practices in the coming weeks.

“We hope to see more websites using HTTPS in the future. Let’s all make the web more secure!”


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