Google has announced in a blog post that they are beginning to increase the PageRank of websites that use secure HTTPS connections.
HTTPS is different from HTTP in a way suggested by that letter “S”: it is a secure connection. Over an HTTP connection, there are no precautions for security. It would be rather easy for someone with access to your wireless network, for instance, to inspect your browsing data. With a HTTPS connection, this would require considerably more expertise.
While initially used just by banks and other web services with an obvious interest in security, HTTPS has been enjoying a wider adoption in recent years. Google and others, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have called for the entire Internet to adopt the standard.
Using its considerable leverage as the dominant force in search, Google will very likely help the Internet achieve the goal of near-universal adoption of HTTPS. Webmasters interested in SEO will do anything that Google is willing to admit helps search rankings.
To start, Google says this is being tested in a very small portion of search queries. Likewise, it won’t become a higher priority than things like content relevance. However, they do feel justified in ranking sites that protect your privacy more highly.
They promise to release more detail about how the ranking system will work and which best practices it will promote. Overall, this looks like a step in the right direction and a justified change to their algorithms.
Featured image by Yuri Samollov (Flickr).