What is HTTPS and why does will it effect your SEO ranking

Google has announced it will give sites using encryption a higher rank in its search algorithms. Particularly, it singled out HTTPS, which it characterizes as “industry-leading security.”

It’s easy to tell if a site is using the system: A URL that starts https:// instead of http:// is using it. HTTPS, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, makes it more difficult for hackers, the NSA, and others to track users. The protocol makes sure the data isn’t being transmitted in plain-text format, which is much easier to eavesdrop on.

What’s more, it piggybacks on the more-familiar HTTP, and most browsers support it. It’s particularly important for use in public wireless networks, where bad actors can easily discover sensitive information by “packet sniffing”—programs that can see all the information transmitted over an unencrypted network.

HTTPS helps prevent intruders from tampering with the communications between your websites and your users’ browsers. Intruders include intentionally malicious attackers, and legitimate but intrusive companies, such as ISPs or hotels that inject ads into pages.

Intruders exploit unprotected communications to trick your users into giving up sensitive information or installing malware, or to insert their own advertisements into your resources. For example, some third parties inject advertisements into websites that potentially break user experiences and create security vulnerabilities.

Intruders exploit every unprotected resource that travels between your websites and your users. Images, cookies, scripts, HTML … they’re all exploitable. Intrusions can occur at any point in the network, including a user’s machine, a Wi-Fi hotspot, or a compromised ISP, just to name a few.

HTTPS prevents intruders from being able to passively listen to communications between your websites and your users.

One common misconception about HTTPS is that the only websites that need HTTPS are those that handle sensitive communications. Every unprotected HTTP request can potentially reveal information about the behaviors and identities of your users. Although a single visit to one of your unprotected websites may seem benign, some intruders look at the aggregate browsing activities of your users to make inferences about their behaviors and intentions, and to de-anonymise their identities. For example, employees might inadvertently disclose sensitive health conditions to their employers just by reading unprotected medical articles.
HTTPS is already the default for Google sites, which scrambles data as it travels from Google’s servers to the user’s computer. It was introduced as the default for Gmail, its webmail service, in 2011. The change in algorithm gives leverage to a speech a few months ago, industry experts, called for HTTPS everywhere. So far, only about 25% of the web uses the protocol.

The experts stated “All communication should be secure by default”.

For now, Google is using HTTPS as “very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content.” That will likely change in the future, Google said. “We’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web,” the company said in its blog post.

So with Google’s oomph behind HTTPS, it is likely that HTTPS may be powering the web of the future.

For further information on making your website HTTPS, and to rank better in Google’s search results, please contact us.