In the recent weeks, Google has gone on record stating that websites that use HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) will receive a bump in their website’s search rankings.
If you have not a clue as to what I’m talking about, when I say “HTTPS”, then I suggest you read up on SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and HTTPS, and why and when they’re to be used.
In short, banking, shopping, email and social media service providers are among the top users of SSL.
SSL is used primarily to keep data encrypted and private from those snoopy eyes trying to pry into the most intimate details of your life. SSL only protects the transferring of data from one connection point to another.
As a matter of fact, if your banking, email, social media, and online shopping providers are not using SSL, the chance of your sensitive data (i.e., credit card information, social security, passwords, username) being compromised is at a greater risk.
Also, just because SSL is used doesn’t mean that the database one stores your information in is secure.
Again, SSL on deals with securing your data as it is transferred throughout wild superhighway known as the Internet. But I digress.
So why then is SSL being used in search such a big factor at all is probably your question?
As it relates to search, everyone knows the big “G”, Google, has long favored encrypting its search data using SSL.
Google’s decision to encrypt search data was a bit damaging for many businesses that use their free web analytics and webmaster tools services to monitor which keywords customers were using to arrive at their website.
No longer can you see the keywords with the introduction of SSL as it is now been simply reduced to “not provided”.
This keeps those of us who make a living on finding and optimizing websites for the money-pot keywords to reap the benefits of page-one search results and customer traffic at bay.
In short, my guess is that Google using SSL is only a method to a means to:
- increase their revenue and use of services such as pay-per-click advertising
- increase the sale of SSL certificates, which are considered ancillary services for 3rd-party providers and themselves
- to create a paid application that focuses on keyword research and measurement.
I know none of these to be true, but this is just my speculation. Personally, I don’t believe simply buying a SSL certificate will boost your website to page one ranking or any other page ranking.
High-quality content will still be the heavyweight and deciding factor over SSL. Simply using SSL to rank higher would be too simple of a move.
Yet, I do believe SSL will and could be used as an lightweight indicator, albeit a small one, for ranking websites.
After all, spyware and malware websites can easily purchase SSL certificates just as any of the rest of us using the web.
Nevertheless, the web and search is changing, although slightly, with the implementation of SSL everywhere.
Read Google’s blog post on tips and tricks to get started using SSL.