Digital Insights

Why Google is Adding HTTPS to Their Search Ranking Algorithm?


Published: August 18, 2014

You have no doubt seen the prefix “http” at the front of a website URL address and probably wondered what it meant. It’s short for “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol” and it is the primary technology used to permit Web users to link and browse. A similar-appearing prefix that you may not be familiar with is “https” which stands for “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol with Secure Sockets Layer.” This technology protocol provides safe and secure Internet transactions, and can be found on most ecommerce sites that deal with personal financial data.

Google has issued a call for “HTTPS everywhere” in the interest of improving overall Web security and providing users with a more secure and safer experience. Webmasters have been encouraged to adopt HTTPS on their website; Google has recently upped the ante by announcing that HTTPS has been added to its search ranking algorithm.

  • According to Google, the HTTPS protocol is currently a lightweight ranking signal that carries less weight than many other ranking factors.
  • Google has indicated that the HTTPS ranking signal may be strengthened in the future.

How HTTPS and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Works
When HTTPS is used, the connection between your computer and the website you are visiting is “scrambled” so that no third party can hack into your connection and steal your information. A Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate contains a code which transfers information into unintelligible strings of random characters which are sent securely and “unscrambled” at the other end.

An SSL certificate contains two keys: a public key that can be sent to anyone who needs it to send encrypted information to the certificate owner, and a private key which the owner keeps to himself.

  • When you connect to a website through HTTPS, the site encrypts your session through a digital certificate. Your website connection is secure if you can see https:// in the site URL.
  • Web browsers display https:// in the address bar as well as a padlock icon on the bottom of the navigator that shows that the website you are visiting is secure.

What if You Already Have SSL?
Even if your website already has SSL on the checkout page, you still need to adopt HTTPS across your entire website in order to receive the ranking benefits; the ranking boost applies only to those pages that have SSL. If you decide to implement HTTPS, be sure to test everything to make sure that the certificate doesn’t display errors to your visitors; some of your content may need to be adapted to prevent a security warning display.

How to Implement HTTPS
According to Google, there are no downsides to adopting HTTPS as long as it is properly done. Here are a few tips to keep you out of trouble:

  • Choose the right type of certificate that you need for your company: single, multi-domain or wildcard.
  • Be sure to use 2048-bit certificates.
  • Use relative URLs for any resources that reside on the same secured domain, and protocol relative URLs for any other domains.
  • Don’t block your HTTPS site by using robot.txt.
  • Don’t use the noindex robots meta tag.
  • Visit for a free tool to test your SSL certificates.