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August 8, 2014

Google to Give Precedence to Secures Sites in SERPs

Google is forcing website owners to rethink their URLs by favoring secure sites in search results — those with an ‘https’ — over those with a simple ‘http.’

Organizations with non-encrypted websites do not have to make the switch, of course but, if they don’t, they will pay the price by slipping in the SERPs. Any of those who are on the coveted first page of Google’s search results are especially likely to make the switch to encryption, to safeguard their ranking.

“Over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms,” reads a Google blog post. “We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than one percent 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 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.”

Google will release a set of guidelines to aid companies and organizations in making the necessary changes.

The tech titan also offered some quick tips to kick-start the process.

  • Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate;
  • Use 2048-bit key certificates;
  • Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain;
  • Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains;
  • Check out our Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address;
  • Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt;
  • Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag.

Those with websites already serving on HTTPS can test their security level and configuration with the Qualys Lab tool.


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.