SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is not the same game it was a few years ago. At least where Google is concerned. Those of us with our hands in website creation, marketing, and optimization keep a close eye on what Google announces with regard to their ranking algorithm. Between Penguin and Panda a lot of good content websites no longer rank well on Google (however they can still be found on Bing and Yahoo).
So now we can add one more item to the list that is purported to effect website rankings on Google: having a certificate so that the website can support HTTPS.
On December 10, 2014, Google announced that it has started including HTTPS into what it looks at when evaluating search rankings. They are saying that supporting HTTPS will result in more favorable SERP (Search Engine Result Page – the sites a search engine dishes up as the result of your search) results.
Over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.
~Zineb Ait Bahajji and Gary Illyes, Google Webmaster Trends Analysts
Use of the protocol still is considered just a minor factor, though, effecting less than 1 percent of global queries. They made it clear that HTTPS has less weight than high-quality content.
Bahajji and Illyes also said: “we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the Web”.
Personally I don’t think this is a very good signal. A lot of sites do not need a certificate. For a site that does not need encryption, this adds unnecessary overhead. My gut feeling is that it’s like having a dedicated IP address… something that Google can look at and say… humm they have this and they have that, so that MUST mean they’re more serious and more better than websites that don’t, so we’ll rank them a wee bit higher. Take this site, www.pqInternet.com, for example, there’s no reason at all for a certificate on this site… but I suppose I’ll end up getting one.
What it also does is weed out farms of little “booster” sites that do not have quality content but were created solely for building links to a primary site in hopes of boosting SERPs. Because it’s doubtful anyone would spend the money to purchase certificates for those types of sites.
I find searching on Bing and Yahoo sometimes very useful. Evidently others do too as Firefox just switch their default search engine from Google to Yahoo. However, it’s so engrained to just go to Google, that I usually do the V8 thing afterwards and slap my forehead and think to myself “arrg I could have tried Bing or Yahoo“!
Until next time (and I’ll try to post more),