Everybody who has a website wants it to rank high on Google. The million dollar question is…how do you do that?
The #1 answer is great content (duh!) but there are a ton of other ranking factors that Google doesn’t really specify. That changed when Google, on it’s official blog, stated that HTTPS will now be used as a ranking signal in the SERPs (search engine results page). In other words, having your entire website behind HTTPS could actually boost your Google rankings. This shouldn’t have come to that much of a shock because security has been a top priority for Google with its “HTTPS Everywhere” initiative.
Also, last year Google switched all its searches over to encrypted searches using HTTPS. Unfortunately for us SEOs and analysts, this resulted in the rise of the ever popular “(not provided)” data within Google Analytics, which by the way completely sucks.
For those who aren’t quite familiar with what HTTPS is, HTTPS is a way to encrypt the data that is transmitted between a user’s web browser and the site they are on. This is usually done with a website utilizing an SSL certificate. A real world example of this would be an ecommerce transaction. With an SSL certificate, a website can keep payments and other customer data secure (i.e. passwords, credit card numbers, etc). This has long been the norm for ecommerce websites and is why, when you are on a website’s order form, you’ll see the HTTPS in the address bar:
Now Google is telling website owners that by making their entire website HTTPS, they may get a boost in their Google rankings. Note though, Google does claim “For now it’s only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content”.
But….how “lightweight” of a factor is this, though? When researching this subject, we found a blog post where the author writes that after moving from HTTP to HTTPS his Google traffic and rankings increased. It seems to me there is only upside to making your entire site HTTPS – you are securing visitor data and you are helping your site improve its Google rankings.
We are also planning on making our entire site (dreamhost.com) HTTPS as well. If you have a website you should reach out to your web hosting provider and inquire about getting an SSL certificate. At DreamHost you can easily purchase an SSL certificate within your control panel for just $15/year.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Google’s new SSL/HTTPS ranking signal works, you can do so here.