The Google webmaster blog has recently made it known what we at Hot Tomali had suspected for some time. The announcement clarified that the Google search engine has been noting the use of HTTPS (using the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol with SSL or TLS) and providing a higher weight to those websites that use it.
Google has claimed that the adjustments to SEO scores are very minimal at the present time however we suspected they will rise in the future. The blog article (link: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ca/2014/08/https-as-ranking-signal.html) seems to concur with our assessment and notes the following:
“…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. 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 — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, 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…”
Dissecting the Details
Google is committed to security as a core principle of the future of the internet. Sites using HTTPS are providing two fundamental benefits to web users. First, they are helping keep the web more anonymous by masking the contents of data during its’ transportation. TLS uses certificates to create cypher text, a human-unreadable format for data, that can be safely transported without prying eyes seeing the content. TLS ensures your rights online are being protected and one of the core principles of the web is the right to that privacy.
Secondly, HTTPS makes sure that no one tampers with content as it is transported around the internet. This keeps the web safer and more secure.
What should you do?
If you haven’t done so, it may be beneficial to add security to your website to help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and security. It is not difficult for seasoned webmasters to set up. The following steps are required:
- Conduct some research on the type of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificates are the most common and your selection will depend on your server’s domain name structure. If you use several sub-domains (examples: ww1.foo.com; ww2.foo.com etc.), you will most likely need a wildcard certificate.
- Decide on the certificate strength. We like to use 2048-bit key certificates for our customers websites as they are stronger than 512-bit keys.
- Your webmaster will need to review your website source code to ensure the use of relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain. Cross-domain security requests are frowned upon for obvious reasons.
- If you have content from other domains, make use of protocol relative URLs for such content.
- Read up on Google’s Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s addresses.
- Once implemented, ensure that your HTTPS enabled content is not blocked from Google or other search engines crawling it. This can be accomplished by using the robots.txt directive. More data on the robots.txt declarations can be found at http://www.robotstxt.org.
- Also be sure to allow search engines to index your pages by avoiding the noindex robots meta tag.
Feel free to contact Hot Tomali for any website or digital enterprise needs. We make your IT work and keep it working for you by ensuring it matures with the rest of the world. From responsive websites and mobile applications, to advanced digital branding, we can provide value for you and create new opportunities for your business.