HTTPS has a significant impact on search engine optimization (SEO) and can influence how well a website ranks in search engine results. Google, in particular, has been emphasizing the importance of HTTPS for several years. Here’s how HTTPS affects SEO and why secure websites tend to rank better:
- Ranking Signal: In 2014, Google officially announced that HTTPS is a ranking signal. This means that websites using HTTPS may receive a slight ranking boost compared to non-secure websites. While this is just one of hundreds of ranking factors, it can be a tiebreaker between two otherwise equally optimized websites.
- Trust and Credibility: Websites with HTTPS are often perceived as more trustworthy and credible by users. Google takes user experience and trustworthiness into account when ranking websites. Having a secure connection can lead to higher user trust, which indirectly impacts SEO by reducing bounce rates and increasing user engagement.
- Security and Data Integrity: HTTPS ensures the security and integrity of data transferred between a user’s browser and a web server. Google prioritizes user safety, so a secure connection is vital for protecting user data from interception or tampering. A breach in security can have severe consequences, including penalties from search engines.
- User Experience: Page loading speed is a ranking factor, and HTTPS can sometimes improve website performance. The use of HTTP/2, a protocol that often requires HTTPS, can result in faster loading times, benefiting SEO. Additionally, Google’s Chrome browser now marks HTTP sites as “Not Secure,” potentially discouraging visitors and negatively impacting bounce rates.
- Mobile SEO: With the increasing use of mobile devices, Google’s mobile-first indexing prioritizes websites optimized for mobile. Secure websites are considered more suitable for mobile users, contributing to better rankings in mobile search results.
- Ranking in Google’s Chrome Browser: Google’s Chrome browser, one of the most widely used web browsers, has been actively marking non-secure HTTP sites as “Not Secure” since July 2018. This visual indicator can deter users from visiting such sites, leading to a potential drop in traffic and rankings.
- Compliance with Regulations: Many websites, especially those handling sensitive data, are required by law to implement HTTPS for data protection and privacy. Failing to comply with these regulations can lead to legal consequences and penalties, which can impact a website’s SEO indirectly.
- Secure Content: HTTPS is crucial for serving secure content, such as payment gateways, login forms, and e-commerce transactions. Google’s algorithms can identify whether a website is secure and will prioritize secure content when ranking search results.
In summary, the impact of HTTPS on SEO is significant. Secure websites rank better due to the positive signals they send to search engines in terms of trust, data security, user experience, and compliance with best practices. While HTTPS is just one factor among many that influence search rankings, it’s a foundational element of modern SEO and is becoming increasingly important as the internet prioritizes security and privacy. Websites that adopt HTTPS are more likely to enjoy higher search engine rankings and user trust.