Last week, Google announced HTTPS as a ranking signal. According to Google, websites that use HTTPS might get a small ranking boost. Is this ranking boost relevant and what do you have to do to benefit from this change?
What exactly did Google say?
Here’s the exact text of the 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.“
What exactly is HTTPS?
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is a communications protocol for secure communication over a computer network.
The main motivation for HTTPS is to prevent wiretapping and man-in-the-middle attacks.
Why does Google give HTTPS websites a ranking boost?
There’s no obvious reason why HTTPS websites should get a ranking boost. Websites with low quality content and bad backlinks remain what they are even if the use HTTPS.
Normally, HTTPS only makes sense for web pages on which users enter sensible information (payment data, address data, etc.). For all other pages, HTTPS does not add any benefit to the user experience.
A bad website with HTTPS won’t get high rankings
Google says that HTTPS is only a very lightweight signal at this time. That means that there are many other things that are much more important.
For example, the content of your web pages is a very important factor. The keywords for which you want to get high rankings should appear in the right elements on your pages.
Your web pages should also have good backlinks from other sites. Without good backlinks, your pages won’t get high rankings.
At this time, adding HTTPS to your website might move your pages from position 798 to position 763. You won’t get to the first result page with that change. If you want to find out what you have to do to get your web pages on Google’s first results page, use the tools in SEOprofiler: