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More than a nice addition to a website, HTTPS encryption plays a big role in search rankings.

HTTPS makes websites more secure for users, and this extra layer of security is highly valued by Google.

If there is any doubt that HTTPS is a ranking factor, this chapter will clarify everything.

Here’s what you need to know about HTTPS and how it relates to research.

The Claim: HTTPS is a Ranking Factor

When a website is encrypted with HTTPS, it is said to receive a boost in search rankings on HTTP sites.

One of the bases of this claim is that Google rewards websites that provide a good user experience, and stronger security is a way to improve sites for users.

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This claim also stems from the fact that Google’s Chrome browser displays a warning before users visit non-HTTPS websites. The warning is enough to make even the less SEO savvy person recognize that Google treats HTTPS differently.

Additionally, some claims regarding the strength of the HTTPS ranking signal may vary from extreme to extreme.

We will address all of these claims in the next section and find out the truth with evidence from Google.

The proof: HTTPS as a ranking factor

Evidence of HTTPS as a ranking factor dates back to August 2014.

Google posted a blog post announcing that HTTPS had become a signal for its search ranking algorithms.

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“… Over the past few months we’ve been testing to see if sites are using secure and encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We have seen some positive results so we are starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. “

When this update was first released, Google said that HTTPS would be a “light” ranking signal.

This appears to be the case to date; Google’s Gary Illyes said the idea of ​​increasing the ranking signal has been discussed, but the team decided against.

That doesn’t mean, however, that site owners should treat HTTPS as anything less than a priority. Illyes advised that the signal “affects enough requests in a measurable way that I don’t ignore it.”

HTTPS as a ranking factor: our verdict

HTTPS is a confirmed Google ranking factor.

The impact of the HTTPS ranking signal would be slight, often referred to as a “tie-breaker” signal.

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This means that HTTPS can make the difference in the ranking positions between two relatively equal sites.

That being said, site owners shouldn’t underestimate Google’s appreciation for a good user experience.

Google places such importance on HTTPS that it is part of another ranking signal. The page experience signal takes a number of UX factors into account, one of which is HTTPS.

In theory, websites could benefit from both improved HTTPS rankings and the page experience. This turns a light signal into a stronger signal.

Although this is a confirmed ranking factor, keep in mind that an HTTPS site can still be outclassed by an HTTP site.

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Relevancy is the key when it comes to search rankings. If the most relevant content for a query is on a non-HTTPS site, it will likely rank ahead of encrypted sites.

Even with all the benefits of HTTPS taken into account, this is not a silver bullet. If a site ranks poorly initially, HTTPS will not speed it up to the first page of Google.

In other words: HTTPS isn’t the alpha and omega of search rankings, but it’s a factor. Most importantly, Google recommends it.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita



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