Is Google’s HTTPS Requirement Providing A Search Rankings Boost?

Google first incorporated your site’s usage of HTTPS way back in 2014. In 2017, they became more forceful and began requiring it.

Their intent has been good. HTTPS, after all, uses an encrypted connection to transfer data between your computer and the website you want to visit. Anything that makes the web more secure and more difficult for the bad guys is a good thing.

It’s not 100% bulletproof. But it’s another step that throws a wrench into the plans of cyber thieves.

So, it’s a good step.

Now, the real questions need answers:

  • Has this made any difference?
  • Do websites using HTTPS see the promised rankings boosts?

Let’s find out.

Does HTTPS Make Any Real Difference to Your Search Rankings?

SEO thought leader Brian Dean, with likely the largest subscriber list of SEO-interested folks online, did a study to learn the difference HTTPS actually makes to your search rankings.

His team found “HTTPS had a reasonably strong correlation” with rankings on page one.

So in this case, Google followed through on its promise.

However, it’s important to note that HTTPS isn’t a cure for poor search rankings. It’s not going to lift you from obscurity to page 1 by itself. The general consensus is that it gives you that extra nudge to beat your competition, assuming everything else is equal.

And How Many Sites Have Actually Adopted HTTPS?

Surprisingly, it appears not too many.

AHREFS, which makes a popular (and good) SEO analysis tool, did their own study to better understand HTTPS adoption. To get their data, they analyzed the 10,000 most popular websites.

They found:

  • Just 10% of websites have a “flawless HTTPS setup”
  • Only 35% of websites use HTTPS
  • 60% have no HTTPS at all
  • 5% have HTTPS, but with significant errors in the setup

By the way, you can read the whole study here.

Setting up HTTPS is not overly complex. But it can cost a noticeable amount of time and money.

For these larger websites, the costs wouldn’t have been prohibitive. But they would be inconvenient.

Smaller and local businesses might take issue with the cost of implementing HTTPS.

Should You Implement HTTPS?

If you haven’t already, you should do it as soon as you can. Google’s confirmed it as a genuine ranking signal.

Research supports their claim.

HTTPS is not astronomically expensive. And much of your competition doesn’t do it.

So why not give your users a more secure experience, dramatically reduce their risk of private data theft, and help them feel more confident in your website, and company as a whole?

With HTTPS, the sooner, the better.

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