What Is HTTPS, Anyway?

HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, it’s a variation of the popular HTTP used to transfer web pages across the internet. The difference is that HTTPS adds a layer of security by encrypting the data.

Why Should You Care About HTTPS?

Google has come out and said that sites that are secure will receive a nice little ranking boost!

Google cares deeply about security. They invest a lot in making sure their services, such as Gmail, Drive, and Search use industry leading security. In addition to their own products, they are working hard at helping the internet become a safer and more secure place. They have created resources that help webmasters fix and prevent certain security breaches on their sites, and now by announcing this ranking boost they hope everyone will move their sites over to HTTPS.

So that means we should all run out and secure our site right?

Should you transfer your site to HTTPS?

Before you make the decision to move your site over to HTTPS, consider the following:

  • Secure sites cost money,
  • They have to be managed and kept up to date,
  • Almost 100% of searches performed will bring up a non HTTPS site, but in those exceptional cases when two search results otherwise equal with respect to quality and content, the HTTPS site might see a slightly higher ranking than the non-HTTPS site.

Google has said that for now, it’s only a light ranking signal which affects fewer than 1% of global queries and it’s far less of a ranking signal in comparison to good quality unique content. Google wants to give webmasters time to switch over their sites, and over time they may decide to strengthen the signal.

If you have content on your site that people will access behind a login, or forms where people will be submitting sensitive material, well then it’s a no brainer, you should have a secure site and now it may help boost your rankings.

If you have a small website and you are already having a hard time updating on a regular basis, getting your site secured isn’t really going to help much. Focus on other more highly weighted ranking signals like quality content, citations and optimized meta data before you run out and get a secure site.

Some tips to consider if you do make the switch

  • Ensure you don’t block your HTTPS site from search engine crawlers in your Robots.txt file,
  • Decide which type of security certificate is right for you: single, multi-domain, or wildcard,
  • Use 2048-bit key certificates,
  • Follow Googles guidelines on how to move your sites address.

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