In the past, several Google employees have suggested they would like to see site security included as a ranking factor within their search engine. Now, Google has followed through and announced that going HTTPS, or adding a SSL 2048-bit key certificate on your site, can potentially give you a small ranking boost.
Don’t expect to propel yourself to the top of the search results by adding HTTPS, as Google refers to it as “a very lightweight signal” within the larger scheme of things and only affects “fewer than 1% of global queries.” However, it was also implied that the new ranking signal may get beefed up in the future in an attempt to encourage all site owners to increase the security on their sites.
The change should come as little surprise to anyone who heard Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, publicly endorse the idea of making SSL a ranking factor just a few months ago.
Unlike many ranking changes that Google makes, the risk of drawbacks is small. Google has been saying that switching to HTTPS should not have an effect on SEO for years, so long as you take a few steps to guarantee your traffic stays steady. Mostly, such steps relate to communicating to Google so it understands how to read your site.
Google has also said they will be releasing for information and resources for webmasters deciding to adopt HTTPS, but for now all they offer are these tips:
- 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.