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Google is continuing its efforts to promote privacy in search by prioritizing indexing HTTPS pages over their HTTP equivalents.

In the announcement, Google explains its long-term aim is to eventually direct users to secure webpages with a private connection. The step to only index HTTPS pages when an HTTP equivalent exists is their most recent move in this process, following the small rankings boost given to HTTPS pages last year.

Unlike the change to Google’s algorithm in August 2014, this move will not have any effect on rankings. Instead, it simply means that Googlebot will only index the HTTPS version of a URL when both an HTTPS and HTTP version exist.

While Google’s commitment to secure search may lead to more rankings boosts for HTTPS pages in the future, this change is mostly to improve the efficiency of Google’s current indexing process. As they explain in their announcement:

“Browsing the web should be a private experience between the user and the website, and must not be subject to eavesdropping, man-in-the-middle attacks, or data modification. This is why we’ve been strongly promoting HTTPS everywhere.”

Much has been made out of the announcement that Google would include switching from HTTP to HTTPS in their ranking algorithm. Despite clearly stating that the factor would be lightweight in the initial announcement, the possibility of a relatively easy rankings boost drove lots of people to make the switch immediately.

In the aftermath studies from analytics groups such as SearchMetrics have suggested that any effect of switching URLs might have is largely unnoticeable. Now, Google’s John Mueller has basically admitted that the signal currently too lightweight to have any noticeable effect but that may change at some point in the future.

At 22 minutes and 21 seconds in a recent video hangout, Mueller explained that HTTPS is a ranking signal but it is only a “very lightweight signal” and there aren’t any plans to change that in the future.

Jennifer Slegg was the first to report Mueller’s statement and transcribed it:

I wouldn’t expect any visible change when you move from http to https, just from that change, just from SEO reasons. That kind of ranking effect is very small and very subtle. It’s not something where you will see a rise in rankings just from going to https

I think that in the long run, it is definitely a good idea, and we might make that factor stronger at some point, maybe years in the future, but at the moment you won’t see any magical SEO advantage from doing that.

That said, anytime you make significant changes in your site, change the site’s URLs, you are definitely going to see some fluctuations in the short term. So you’ll likely see some drop or some changes as we recrawl and reindex everything. In the long run, it will settle down to about the same place, it won’t settle down to some place that’s like a point higher or something like that.

You can see the video below: