Google Inc. announced last week that websites using SSL and HTTPS—the secure version of HTTP—may get a ranking boost.
In Webmaster speak, HTTPS is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) “ranking signal.” For now, Google said in a blog post, the signal is very lightweight and will affect fewer than 1% of global queries. Addressing even a minor signal can add up to a major difference. And as the company admits, it may strengthen the signal over time in order to enhance safety for all web users. Just months ago Google called for “HTTPS everywhere”. Its plan to favor websites that use HTTPS instead of HTTP—even if only slightly for now—is a strong signal that Google is making security a top priority and that a Web-wide sea change is in the works.
What is HTTPS?
HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. The extra “S” in HTTPS stands for Secure (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure).
Without getting too technical, that one letter makes a big difference in terms of protecting a user’s data. As Google describes it, HTTPS “protects the integrity and confidentiality of your users’ data.” In short, it provides users with a secure connection to your website and protects their personal information.
Why SSL HTTPS?
In light of Edward Snowden’s revelations of government spying, rampant online identify theft, and reports of Chinese and Russian hackers, internet security is a hot topic, with many asking whether there is any such thing as privacy on the internet anymore.
Matthew Vaughan at the ChapterThree blog points out that “We increasingly lead our lives online; all of our personal, professional and financial details, interests and communications take place there, information we might not want everyone else in the world to know.”
“Our online communications are no longer assumed to be obscure, so to maintain privacy they must become secure,” he adds.
Privacy, in a word, is why HTTPS matters. Although you may not think that you have much to protect, the people who visit your website and submit personal information—this happens every time a prospective client fills out a lead generation form—would beg to differ.
By every indication, encrypted everything, including Google’s “HTTPS everywhere,” is the future of the Internet. Large web companies, including not only Google, but also giants like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, have recently made HTTPS the default for their sites. SSL encryption will protect clients’ personal information and position you to leverage this ranking signal.