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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.”

Source: The Search Guru

Source: The Search Guru

Matt Cutts has been urging webmasters to use strong encryption measures on their sites for quite a while, and he has hinted that one day Google may start rewarding those sites in their search results. Google has remained mum on the issue entirely, but there are rumors swirling that Cutts is doubling down and pushing for an algorithm update that would favor secure sites within the company.

At the SMX West conference, Cutts explained why the search engine would benefit from favoring encrypted sites by saying that it would save Google a large amount of time when new security panics occur. According to Time magazine, Cutts is quoted saying, “We don’t have the time to maybe hold your hand and walk you through and show you exactly where it happened.”

It is unclear if these types of changes are likely to be made any time soon, as most sources seem very skeptical. But, in the wake of Heartbleed, one of the most widespread security exploits in history, now would be a reasonable time to increase security guidelines and protocols.