Yesterday Google officially announced a new important on-page SEO ranking signal: SSL encryption.
The Google team has been testing using SSL certificates (HTTPS encryption) as a ranking factor for a few months now – using a very small percentage of sites to perform tests on. According to their website, they have now officially decided to give a rank boost to websites with an SSL (you can read Google’s official statement about it here).
Why should SSL affect rankings?
They say their motivation is safety – Google wants to motivate the entire web to encrypt their pages to keep users safe. Is it really necessary? I don’t think so. It seems like another way to force webmasters to pay $20 extra/year to have an SSL, and try to weed out the spammy internet marketers.
Don’t run out and buy SSL certificates for all your websites – not yet anyway. This new update only effects 1% of searches, so chances are you won’t see a huge ranking boost from adding an SSL today. But its good to keep an eye on your competitors, and if you do see a rank drop, you might have an idea as to why.