Over the past few months, Google has been running tests to develop an algorithm that accounts for site encryption in search result ranking, the company said in a blog post by webmaster trend analysts, Zineb Ait Bahajji and Gary Illyes.
This means that if your site uses HTTPS, it will appear slightly higher in search results than a site that doesn’t.
“We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal,” Bahajji and Illyes wrote. Googles says it’s a “lightweight signal,” so high quality sites are still going to show up at the top of search results. Meaning this new algorithm isn’t going to make a huge difference — yet.
But it’s a pretty big move and should push sites that care about search result ranking (read: all sites) to beef up their encryption and security protocols. Google says it’s also open to making HTTPS a stronger signal as time goes on.
To help guide encryptionless websites in the right direction, the company is in the process of writing best-practice blog posts. Bahajji and Illyes also encourage websites owners to test their security level using the Qualys Lab tool and of course, post in their Webmaster Help Forums.