Will Google’s HTTPS encryption make the internet a safer place?
Although the Internet may make our lives a lot easier, because of the large amount of personal data we throw around online, it does present certain risks to our privacy.
With government entities tapping into personal data in instances such as the widely publicised Edward Snowden case, it is no surprise consumers are becoming skeptical of their online privacy.
According to eMarketer, around half of US internet users are concerned about privacy on their emails, web browsers and search engines, while 66 per cent said they are fearful of the personal data they have on their social networking accounts.
To supposedly create a safer internet, Google is encouraging websites to switch to HTTPS encryption.
To give websites an incentive to make the switch, Google announced on the Webmaster Central Blog a slight ranking advantage to sites with HTTPS, which could be useful for brands conducting content marketing.
The majority of websites have the HTTP setting, which stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. The ’S’at the end of Google’s version stands for secure and encrypts all the data.
Last year,Google started encrypting search for those signed into gmail, and Google search and Google Drive, already have the HTTPS setting.
Although this ranking will only affect around 1 per cent of queries worldwide, in time Google said the signal could take on more weight.
But will the HTTPS encryption make the internet a safer place?
Director of SEO Innovation at GroupM’s Catalyst Daniel Cristo recently contributed an article to Search Engine Land in which he claimed Google’s motive behind pushing the HTTPS setting is to protect users from governmental spying, and is not effective at stopping hackers.
While HTTPS might be useful for businesses with sensitive information, it is unnecessary for the majority of sites, said Cristo.
As far as benefitting search rankings, Cristo pointed out that HTTPS won’t be used for the vast majority of searches. It could only become a factor when two search results pop up that are deemed ‘equal,’ and then the site with the HTTPS encryption might receive preferential treatment.
Therefore, if your website contains employee details or consumer information (such as credit card details) it may pay to opt for the HTTPS setting, but if you run a brochure or information site, the original HTTP setting should be adequate.
Posted by Dylan Brown