Google’s closely guarded formula for determining the rankings of it’s search results is to change again.
The search engine has announced it will soon give preference to more secure websites in it’s search rankings.
The move comes as part of Google’s long term strategy to improve internet security overall by encouraging other websites to strengthen their security.
Every company wants to rank favourably on their SEO and a good ranking can make or break a business.
The decision could encourage more sites to turn on encryption, which makes them less vulnerable to hacking by digitally scrambling data as it passes between a user’s device and an online service to make poaching of personal information more difficult for interlopers.
Secure sites will usually, but not always, show a little padlock and use a web address beginning ‘HTTPS’, with the ‘S’ standing for secure.
In 2011, Google introduced HTTPS by default on its popular Gmail service and social network Facebook committed to secure browsing by default in July 2013.
Encrypting websites will cost their owners’ extra money, but they could lose even more if they fall out of Google’s favour.
However, Google themselves have said that encryption is unlikely to become the most important factor in their website-ranking equation.
For now at least, it’s only a lightweight signal – affecting fewer than 1% of global queries and carrying far less weight than other signals such as high quality content and search request relevance.
Google has promised to publish detailed best practices over the coming weeks.