Secure Hosting and Search

Google announced last year their intention to start using HTTPS as a ranking signal for search results. Want to know what on earth that means and how it impacts your business? Read on.

Firstly, what is a ranking signal. Basically this is anything Google uses to determine where your website should rank in its search listings. We already know for example that the number and quality of inbound links, referral links, to your website has an impact on where you rank. We also know that the breadth and quality of content on your website also has in impact. As do a host of other elements, all of which get fed into the mixer to allow Google to determine where you stack up against your competition for keyword searches.

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So what’s HTTPS? You are probably familiar with ‘http’ having seen it written as part of a web address, for example It stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and in simple terms it is a network protocol designed to serve web pages from a web server to a computer. In even simpler terms it’s what makes the world wide web function. The ‘s’ stands for secure and is a version of the same protocol in which communication between your computer and the web server is encrypted. Traditionally HTTPS is used during the checkout stages of an ecommerce website and ensures your personal and credit card details are secure during transmission between computers.

Why is Google interested in HTTPS? Google aims to make the web a safer place. Less spam, malware, phishing and data theft are all important aims that can be helped by increasing security protocols for network traffic. Google is therefore championing the idea that all web traffic, not just checkout processes, should utilise HTTPS. To show their commitment they have indicated HTTPS will be used as a ranking signal. So once again, what does that mean? In short, all other considerations being equal, Google will rank a site using HTTPS over one using HTTP. So by serving your website over HTTPS you gain an advantage over your competitors who just use HTTP.

What do I need to do to benefit? The change is not hugely complex but nor is it like flicking a switch. It involves changing the configuration of your web hosting and installing an SSL certificate on the server. It’s something your service provider should be able to assist you with depending on your web hosting. The good news for our customers is that we will soon be adjusting our top tier hosting plans to secure by default so you won’t need to do anything to gain the benefits of improved security and Google ranking.



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