In an age where it seems like nowhere is safe from espionage, let alone the internet, Google is taking the lead on making security a smart business practice. The search giant announced in a blog post Wednesday that it would start prioritizing HTTPS in its algorithm, giving sites using encrypted, secure connections higher ranking in its searches.
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. 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. [Google]
Encrypted data means users connecting over unsecured Wi-fi networks will have one more obstacle between their information and snoopers — but concerns over cost and connection time have historically made website operators hesitant. But Christopher Soghoian, a principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Wall Street Journal that this is "the ultimate carrot" for sites to start encrypting their connections. We'll have to see whether the prospect of more love from the ever-fickle Google search algorithm seduces site operators into beefing up their connections.