Content Marketing Blog

Google’s https signal has no effect on rankings

Last month, Google announced that the https encryption will operate as a ranking signal, and sites that embrace the encryption would receive a minor boost.

Google introduced https as a supposedly more secure alternative to the standard Hypertext Transfer Protocol URL most websites use, and is encouraging all sites to make the switch.

Although the new https ranking signal was said to be only lightweight and affect around 1 per cent of all search queries, a recent study by SearchMetrics found https has no visible impact on rankings at all.

The study – which analysed hundreds of thousands of keyword rankings over the past two years – found https sites received more visibility than http at only a few points in time, none of which were directly after the announcement.https_vs_http_searchmetrics_1-550x361

After taking away a few outliers from the data – some of which were individual directories (such as play.google.com) – keyword rankings from https sites were much lower.

https_vs_http_searchmetrics_2-550x351

Therefore, the study concluded that the ranking signal hasn’t gone into effect yet, or it is too small to pick up on.

Search Engine Roundtable Founder Barry Schwartz agreed the ranking signal is far too small to notice. Schwartz said he moved his site onto the https encryption, and experienced a minor drop in organic traffic from Google of 0.63 per cent from August 13th to September 1st.

Clearly nobody is really sure if the signal has any effect, but it could take on more precedence in time.

If you’re thinking of making the switch to improve SEO, GroupM’s Catalyst Director of SEO Innovation Daniel Cristo advised website owners to consider users before making the switch.

If your website contains private data and requires users to log in, such as e-commerce sites or online financial services, Cristo recommended making the switch to https, but if you are running an information or brochure site then having the encryption isn’t necessary.

If you do decide to go ahead and switch to https, Google gave some recommendations:

  • Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate
  • Use 2048-bit key certificates
  • Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
  • Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains
  • Check out our Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address
  • Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
  • Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the no index robots meta tag.

 

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Posted by Dylan Brown