Online security is a concern for everyone but it looks like Google has everyone's back as the search engine announces that it's doling out ranking points to websites implementing secure connections.
In a post on the Webmaster Central Blog, Wednesday, Google announced that it has started using secure connections as one of the signals it uses to determine search engine ranking. Tests have been done over the last few months and results have been positive that's why Google has decided to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.
There are more than 200 signals used to determine ranking and not all of them are discussed publicly by the company. As it affects less than one percent of global queries, HTTPS as a ranking signal can be considered significantly lightweight but it is a good way to push webmasters to appreciate secure connections more.
Costs and speed cuts have plagued HTTPS connections in the past so many webmasters have not incorporated it into their sites. However, costs have dropped in the last few years so it is now more affordable to switch to HTTPS from HTTP. What about problems with speed? That shouldn't be a problem either anymore as proven by Google and Facebook.
Is there really a need for encryption?
Lookout Inc. Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer Kevin Mahaffey uses a simple analogy: "If you were sending a letter with your credit-card information and Social Security number, would you send it in a secure envelope or a clear envelope? With encryption, users are, in effect, putting their data in a more secure envelope to better protect it in transit," he explains.
Encrypting data that is transmitted online adds another layer of protection for internet users because a barrier is put up between them and anyone interested in harvesting data for whatever means. Even a user connects to the Internet-using public networks in coffee shops and airports, the threat won't be as big if the site being used is secure itself.
Any site looking to rank high in search engine results will heed Google's "suggestion" and implement more secure connections to take advantage of the pull the signal could have on their rankings, a move that will benefit both the site and users.
Google isn't just imposing rules on sites either as the search engine itself uses secure connections for Google Drive, Gmail and Search.