Is Google giving HTTPS sites a further ranking boost?

Google boosting rankings for HTTPS pages

Regular readers will know from previous posts that Google has long been advocating website owners switch their websites to the secure HTTPS protocol. To encourage the shift Google started giving HTTPS pages a slight ranking boost in search results in 2014. And then, to add further incentive, last December Google announced its indexing system prioritises HTTPS pages by default.

Finally, the concerns some webmasters had about redirecting a site was addressed this February when Google advised that that PageRank is no longer lost when redirecting from HTTP to HTTPS.

So for all these reasons, it’s not surprising that there has been an increase in the number of websites using HTTPS. This is evident when looking at the Google SERP Feature Graph published by MOZ which monitors 10,000 Google SERPs (search engine results pages) on a daily basis.

In January, MOZ reported that 25% of the Google search results were HTTPS. In July this figure had grown to 30% and today is over 40%. As you can see in the last 30 days alone there has been consistent growth in the number of HTTPS websites appearing in search results.

Google SERP graph from MOZ

With more HTTPS sites appearing in search results it begs the question, has Google given a further ranking boost to sites that are secure or is it simply because more sites have now switched to HTTPS?

According to Gary Illyes, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, Google has not turned up the dial to give the HTTPS ranking boost more weight. Given that statement, the reason must then be because there are now more HTTPS sites.

However, there are people like Dr Pete Meyers from MOZ who are of the view that as the number of sites using HTTPS continues to grow it’s likely that Google will boost HTTPS as a ranking signal. I have to agree and think it’s just a matter of time until that tipping point is reached.

Why should you care?

If you’ve not yet considered switching to HTTPS then it’s time to start giving it some serious thought. Do so, especially if you intend revamping your website (which seems to be something a lot of businesses start planning for at this time of year).

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About the Author Mark Sceats

Mark is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire which he founded back in 2002. Prior to establishing SureFire he worked for KPMG Consulting. Today Mark heads up SEO, embracing the challenges that can come with complex website implementations. Outside of work, his interests beyond his family are running, snowsports, diving and fishing (badly).

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