Is Google going to add having an SSL a ranking signal

Is Google going to rank sites higher if they have an SSL

Google_SSL

Google, along with a number of other high profile websites, have been migrating their sites over to use SSL encryption for all website pages rather than the historical usage for register / login / account and shopping cart pages and there are rumours flying around that Google may add whether a site is encrypted using a SSL, as one of their many ranking criteria.

Historically, there were a few reasons to choose to not have your website protected with an SSL which included the cost of the SSL itself, the fact that until fairly recently a dedicated IP address was also required in order to have an SSL (which with the shortage of IPv4 addresses and the additional cost is a double reason) and finally the response speeds of pages encrypted under SSL was slower than unencrypted pages. All of these are not really an issue any longer as the cost of a basic SSL certificate is minimal per year, your web hosting company should support SNI when a dedicated IP address is not required (although there are some other benefits still in having a dedicated IP address) and the speed differential these days is small.

The rumours started about a month ago when Matt Cutts, who is the head of Google’s web spam team, said he would like to see Google make SSL site encryption a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. Now at the moment this is reported as a personal opinion and he did not say that it is or it will be part of the ranking algorithm but as Matt Cutts is a senior Google search engineer and the senior “face” of Google for all SEO / web spam matters – this statement has been taken seriously.

It doesn’t look like anything new has really happened with this yet, and if it is included in the future we would not expect it to have a big effect as that could make it more easily exploitable (although Google are getting so much better at determining abuses of their ranking signals !) but for the minimal cost of adding a SSL, why not do so and we have long strongly recommended it for E-Commerce stores and any other stores that have registration / login / account management or any form of shopping cart pages regardless of whether it is strictly needed for the payment gateway.

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There Are 9 Comments

Peter Roberts on 07 May, 2014

The information about this seems very confused even based on statements that Matt Cutts is supposed to have made – guess we’ll just have to wait and see whether they do or they dont

Havenswift Hosting on 07 Aug, 2014

Google have just announced that over the past few months they have been running tests to see whether sites using secure, encrypted connections should have a boost in their search ranking algorithm and as they claim to have seen positive results, they are now official starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.

They have said that 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 this is only while they give webmasters time to switch over fully to HTTPS.

One clear quotation from their blog post is as follows :

“But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”

This is as clear as it ever gets from Google about future intentions and indicates that this will become an increasingly important ranking feature for all websites

Jon Edwards on 07 Aug, 2014

Thanks for pointing this out a while ago – we didnt have an SSL before reading your posting but went and got one and are now in the process of ensuring our whole store runs under https rather than just the login / account / shopping cart pages as we agree with you that Google will place a much higher ranking in future

Havenswift Hosting on 07 Aug, 2014

The original posting on the official Google Webmaster Central blog can be found here : https://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2014/08/https-as-ranking-signal.html

Russell on 07 Aug, 2014

Will have to think about this when launching our new site! 🙂

Havenswift Hosting on 15 Aug, 2014

Russell – you may want to think about it immediately rather than wait ! For most CubeCart sites it isn’t a lot of work and while it currently only gives a relatively small rankings increase (some is better than none), Google have clearly said that this weighting will increase in the near future – they are simply giving sites time to get an SSL installed and configured to using it across the whole site

Al on 15 Aug, 2014

And there we were recommending customers to used mixed SSL/Standard… Thanks for the info.

Havenswift Hosting on 15 Aug, 2014

Al – CubeCart is great as it already allows the choice to clients to have a SSL certificate to protect just the login / register, account and cart / checkout pages (which we have always said is the very minimum that every single E-Commerce site should have regardless of whether it is required for the payment gateway being used) but there is also a relatively easy way to switch the site to force https for all pages.

What then needs to be done is to ensure any hard coded urls using http:// are changed as well and this can be a big job for some sites !

Steven Bird on 15 Aug, 2014

Not sure there is much to think about if it maintains/improves your ranking. Anything that improves customer security and confidence has to be good 🙂
Ian has completed this job for us and as usual we are very happy with the service that he has provided.

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