Does Google use HTTPS as an SEO ranking signal? – As of 2018, advice straight from the search engine giant is a resounding yes. What is more, as of July, the Google Chrome web browser will start issuing security warnings to users, every time they happen to navigate to non-HTTPS supported URLs.
HTTPS Vs HTTP – What do Webmasters Need to Know?
HTTP stands for ‘Hypertext Transfer Protocol’ and was created in 1989, by world wide web creator, Tim Berners-Lee.
Essentially a request-response protocol designed to allow web browsers to request information from website servers, HTTP is the unspoken language of the Internet. There is just one problem. When web browsers request information from servers via HTTP, information is neither secure or encrypted. This means that in theory, a malicious third party can hijack information requests for their own ends.
Needless to say, while HTTP works perfectly well for simple blogs, HTTP is severely lacking when it comes to transferring secure information such as website login details. This is why in 1994, web browser pioneers Netscape, created HTTPS. In doing so, encrypted Transport Layer Security (TLS) was added to requests, in order to verify the integrity of data being sent and received between servers and web browsers.
Google Chrome and HTTPS in 2018
Thanks to the ability of HTTPS to better guard against man-in-the-middle attacks, HTTPS has been preferred by web many masters since the early 2000’s. Several websites, however, still use HTTP. This is why as of July 2018, Google will be striving to push more webmasters to adopt HTTPS. – Namely, by flagging HTTP URLs as ‘not secure,’ for users of Google’s own Google Chrome web browser.
Will Not Switching to HTTPS Affect Website SEO Scores?
As far back as August 2014, Google started using HTTPS as a verified SEO ranking signal. This means that for 4-years already, HTTPS-enabled websites have ranked higher in the Google search. In fact, according to SEO experts Moz, HTTPS-enabled websites featured on the first page of Google went from just 8% in 2014 to 32% by 2016.
Potential HTTPS Pitfalls
Because Google Chrome is the world’s most widely used web browser, it is more important than ever for websites to migrate to HTTPS. At the same time, however, it is important to understand that migrating to HTTPS can result in dropped traffic if not undertaken carefully.
- Not updating canonical tags can result in search engines indexing incorrect web page versions
- Absolute internal site links need to be updated in order to avoid page loading errors
- Sitemaps need to be accurately updated
- Security certificates need to be regularly updated
- All linked social media accounts and externally hosted content need to have links updated to HTTPS
Thankfully, migrating a website to HTTPS doesn’t have to be arduous. What is more, many websites which do migrate can experience up to 7% increases in overall web traffic as a result.
Speed Up & Secure Your Site for as Little as $10
Don’t know where to start with HTTPS? If so, don’t worry. Starting at just $10, IT experts like myself at freelance marketplaces like Fiverr, can help you get ready for July 2018 and even improve website speeds in the process. All you need to do is reach out sooner rather than later, in order to stay one step ahead of the looming Google Chrome HTTPS update.