A couple of weeks ago, Google released a blog post informing webmasters that they are now placing a certain amount of ranking preference towards secure websites that include the HTTPS protocol in their address. Since then, there has been much activity; some people have complied with this straight away, whereas others are sitting back for the time being, waiting to see the outcome of other people’s migrations.
What is HTTPS?
The protocol at the beginning of a website address is HTTP or “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol” and when you see HTTPS, this means the webpage has a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). In basic terms, it means that any information entered into that particular webpage will be encrypted, therefore meaning it is safe from any possible hackers trying to retrieve delicate information. It’s likely you will have seen the HTTPS on ecommerce websites; you often find it on pages where you have to enter personal contact details, your login information or credit card details.
What does this mean for websites?
Some webmasters will already have this protocol on their sites, such as the ‘Contact us’ or checkout pages. But Google is now calling for entire websites to be marked with HTTPS. This means that, even when you land on the home page of a website, whether there is a section for you to enter personal information or not, the HTTPS protocol should still be there at the beginning of the address.
Whilst they say this change to your website address would help to improve your rankings, Google states that it would only be a very small boost and that other factors, such as the quality of the content on your website and the quality of your back links, are still just as important. They do however state that this factor may be strengthened over time (once webmasters have had the chance to migrate their sites) in the hope that it will encourage all other website owners to migrate too and “keep everyone safe on the web”.
How people have reacted
Since the announcement, there has been much debate across the internet.
- it’s a great move by Google as it guarantees that, when conducting a search, users can guarantee that they will be served with secure websites
- it will build a website’s trust and reliability factors in the eyes of the people who visit the site
On the other hand, others argue that:
- as the information and content on their website will be no different, it should not matter whether or not they use HTTPS
- it is an added expense for small businesses
- some people are not familiar with the requirements for SSL, particularly if they don’t run ecommerce sites
- if there is no current place on a website (like a blog, for instance) that requires users to input personal data or make a purchase, what is the point in adding HTTPS? If webmasters are adding it purely to improve their rankings, then this is exactly against Google’s guidelines which always recommend that sites are built for the visitor experience, not for the search engines
What should you do going forward?
Obviously, there is no guarantee at this time that changing your address so that it includes the HTTPS protocol will greatly improve your rankings. Indeed, Google itself states that it will only give sites a slight boost in their overall ranking signals. As always, there may be underlying issues with websites that will stop them from seeing a surge in search traffic or a boost in their position in the search engines. This could include poor quality content on the websites or low authority, irrelevant back links. To be on the safe side, we would recommend focusing on these aspects of your site as a priority. If you are happy that your online presence is the best it can be and Google’s announcement has convinced you to add the HTTPS, then get in touch with us and we can add the protocol your website swiftly and securely ensuring that the process runs smoothly and the transition doesn’t affect your current online presence in any way.
If however, you wish to focus on other areas of your site first, thinking that your search engine optimisation needs bringing up to scratch, we can help there too. As an expert digital marketing agency, we will provide a dedicated campaign tailored to your specific website requirements and will work together with you to produce the best results. We comply fully with Google’s webmaster guidelines meaning, unlike some companies, we will develop a marketing strategy that is completely above board and one you will be proud to speak of.
Give us a call and we will be happy to meet with you to discuss your requirements in person.
Categories: SEO, News, Business