Google has announced a programme which it hopes will help encourage webmasters and sysadmins to switch their sites to encrypted-by-default: a boost to results rankings for HTTPS connections.
The use of encrypted connections for websites once carried with it a considerable performance burden, leaving it the exclusive realm of financial transaction processors and government types. These days, even the most modest of servers will barely notice the difference in load from an unencrypted connection to one over TLS - as proven by pro-encryption site Is TLS Fast Yet?
To encourage wider adoption of TLS - the technology behind HTTPS - Google has announced that it will be bumping sites that use encrypted connectivity up their results pages. 'Over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms,
' Google engineers Zineb Ait Bahajji and Gary Illyes explained in a blog post
on the matter. 'We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.
'For now it's only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content—while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.