The search engine experts over at Moz have just completed a survey which shows that just over 30% of all search results appearing on the first page of Google are websites that are delivered using the HTTPs protocol – meaning that more and more of us are taking customer safety and online privacy much more seriously.
This is all according to a recent blog post by the highly revered Dr. Pete, who has used information gathered since August 2014 – which is when Google first announced that HTTPS would be used as a ranking tool, although Google themselves said that it would only be a lightweight influence on search result positioning to begin with.
However, while switching a website to a secure protocol only offers marginal gains at present, it is still a worthy consideration even if it only makes the slightest difference between success and failure when trying to gain more traffic.
So What Exactly Is HTTPS?
Up until now, most websites have been delivered under the standard HTTP protocol – which can easily be intercepted by a third party with the relevant know how. HTTPS offers an extra level of protection by encrypting communications between client and server using SSL technology, which works by sharing a special decryption key with the host server that is highly uncompromising from a hacker’s perspective.
Google’s Official 2014 Announcement
“We’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now, it’s only a very lightweight signal, affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals, such as high-quality content.”
Of course, this was just the beginning as Google made a promise that it would increase the strength of this ranking signal in order to ensure the safety of everyone using the internet in the future.
It took a while for webmasters to adopt the new protocol which came as little surprise seeing as the new ranking factor only affected a single percentage of search results, although according to Moz the number of websites using HTTPS did jump from around 7% leading up to the announcement, to 8% just one week later. Noticeable – but not life changing for most of us.
And Moving Forward To 2016 And Beyond…
Two years later and the search results show a very different picture! As of June this year, almost a third of page one Google search results are pages from HTTPS protected domains which means that Google’s promise to take security on the web more seriously is actually working! Whether we are making our websites more secure in order to increase search positions in the interim, or whether we are simply preparing for an inevitable future is a matter of opinion, but those in the know predict that in around 18 months from now almost half of all page one results will come from HTTPS domains. This will – in part – be due to a change in Google’s algorithm giving even more weight to secure websites which is expected to be rolled out within the next 12 months.