Importance of HTTPS for your site
In 2014, Google made it clear that they wanted to create a more secure internet when they called for “HTTPS everywhere” at their annual Google I/O developer conference.
At the time, they mentioned that they had begun to implement encrypted connections within their search ranking algorithm – focusing on just a little under 1% of all global queries – but made it clear that the significance of this carried less weight to overall ranking than, say, high quality content.
The idea, they said, would be to slowly increase the strength at which HTTPS sites ranked on the web, which would give webmasters plenty of time to make the switch over from HTTP to HTTPS by utilising SSL Certificates, and ultimately help to make the web a much more safer place.
Fast forward a few years to 2017 and it's obvious that they weren't kidding.
As a matter of fact, Google have already begun to make a big push on forcing the switch from HTTP to HTTPS, which they're accomplishing through a number of different ways. For example, you may have noticed the little green padlock (or lack-of one) in the address bar within Chrome, which essentially tells a user if a site is secure based upon whether or not it has an SSL Certificate. Whilst this isn't always fair to mark HTTP sites as "potentially unsafe", without some official form of verification, they can't necessarily promise that they are secure.
Similarly, Google have recently (and frequently) released a number of updates to their search algorithm over the last few months, which has been speculated to kick things up a notch in terms of the impact that having HTTPS when compared with HTTP has on page ranking. Admittedly, it's a little too early to tell just exactly how much weight (if any) this will have compared to what it did back in 2014, but it's probably safe to assume that this has increased quite a bit - after all, it has been over 3 years: more than enough time to have purchased an SSL Certificate.
Combine this all with the fact that there has been a decent number of cyber-attacks recently - with a fair few fingers pointing the blame to tech companies like Google to up their security measures - I would anticipate some more changes to their search algorithm, particularly regarding the importance of HTTPS sometime in the near future. From a safety and security standpoint, it's hard to argue that they won't address this issue further, as this additional pressure that they are receiving from governments bodies grows, which may be in part due to the fact that many companies are simply not adopting the HTTPS protocol like Google had hoped they would. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense that Google will undoubtedly approach the change to HTTPS much more aggressively than they have done previously.
But how does this affect you? Well, to put it bluntly, if you're a website owner, then quite a bit. Ultimately, if Google's vision of a safer future comes to fruition, every site would be using HTTPS, so it's probably a good idea to get yourself an SSL Certificate. This is because that if the web ever does become a mostly HTTPS dominated place, then it's likely that Google will update their algorithm to rank sites that have held a certificate for a longer time that little bit better than those that are new to party. Admittedly, this is just a bit of speculation from my part, but they do something similar with domains names, where they reward companies that have had their domain a long time, as this helps to prove they are established and not some new pop-up scam site.
All that being said, the verdict isn't quite in yet on just how much HTTPS will affect your ranking, but putting that to one side for the moment, there's no denying the benefits that it has on your sites security.
Ultimately, if you want to stay ahead of the game, rank that little bit better online and help to re-assure your web users that your site is safe and secure, now is the time to get make the switch to HTTPS and purchase an SSL Certificate.
GT4 Design + Web are offering 20% off SSL Certificates for the first year (prices from £99, subject to T&Cs), so please get in touch to find out more.