In June, a study from Moz showed that 32.5% of all Google search results on the first page were secure sites (websites using HTTPS). This is very interesting news for SEO marketing professionals now because Google said back in August of 2014 that HTTPS was only going to have a small impact on the rank. So now the question becomes, did Google give false information or is it simply coincidental? This is important for any company wanting to ensure their site ranks, so here are the things to know.
For those who don’t know or have maybe forgotten, HTTPS differs from HTTP because they are secure sites. Basically, HTTPS websites do this by encrypting with SSL as well as sharing a key with the destination server. Ultimately it makes them hard to hack. Back in 2014 Google said they would only give a secure site lightweight ranking benefits because at the time less than one percent of global searches were for secure sites and they have always wanted to put the main focus on high quality content instead. However, they did say that this would change over time as a way to keep people safe while they are online. They did not hide their desire for more HTTPS sites and while they did not give a time frame for the ranking benefits, let people know this would happen. Now it seems this is this becoming a reality.
The Difference Two Years Makes
Back in 2014 search metrics showed that there was really no difference in ranking between HTTP and HTTPS sites. As stated before, this was only a one percent difference in results, so it really wasn’t anything special to the ranking. This is where some companies heeded the warning from Google and moved to secure sites while other companies decided they would just keep their site the way it was and focus on other aspects of the SEO.
Now two years later, Dr. Pete from Moz has noticed the gradual trend towards HTTPS. Starting out at about seven percent of all searches in August of 2014 when Google made the announcement, by August of 2014, it was up to about 21% of all searches being to HTTPS. Continue this to June of 2016 and that number skyrockets to 32.5%.
What is the Future for Secure Sites and SEO Ranking?
The other thing to keep in mind with this is where HTTPS is heading in terms of ranking. According to Dr. Pete from Moz, this started because Google led site owners to think secure sites would be rewarded, which in turn sped up the shift to HTTPS they were looking for. Based on current trends, he believes this is only going to continue to grow in popularity. He predicts that within the next 16 to 17 months that this number will be about 50% or greater. In fact, he believes that Google will change their algorithms to place even greater emphasis on secure sites. He thinks this will happen in the next year or so.