Introducing HTTPS – Whether You Like it or Not
As all SEOs should know, Google announced in August 2014 that they would be adding a ranking factor to their SERP algorithm based on whether or not a site was serving a secure or insecure page. As is typical with Google, they didn’t add anything more, leaving many of us wondering: Just how much does HTTPS really matter?
Well, now that the dust has settled a bit, one month later many SEO experts are ready to look back at August’s data and draw some initial conclusions.
So, Does HTTPS Affect SEO Performance?
Well, that totally depends on what context you’re asking that question in. Do you run a banking or finance website? Do you deal with users’ sensitive information? Then yes, you should definitely be using HTTPS, amongst other safeguards. But what about if you run a personal fitness blog, or a fashion website? Does HTTPS affect SEO performance? According to Marcus Tober of SearchMetrics, not enough for anyone to notice:
In a nutshell: No relationships have been discernible to date from the data analyzed by us between HTTPS and rankings nor are there any differences between HTTP and HTTPS. In my opinion therefore, Google has not yet rolled out this ranking factor – and/or this factor only affects such a small section of the index to date that it was not possible to identify it with our data.
The short version: There was barely enough of a difference for the change to be statistically significant in reporting, leading SEOs to believe this is nothing more than an additional, minute ranking factor, used primarily to tip the scales one way or another in the case of a very tight ranking battle between two sites. But don’t expect HTTPS to be winning you any top spots on its own.
So friends, don’t go running out to upgrade to a secure server and dish out for a certificate unless you have a legitimate security need for HTTPS/SSL. One thing is for sure: HTTPS is not going to push you to the top of page 1. Sorry, pipe dreamers!