In Google’s developer’s guide, it states that you should always protect your websites with https even if the site is not handling sensitive communication.
This is because https helps prevents intruders from tampering with the communications between your site and the user’s browsers, therefore blocking the misuse of your website.
Since Google states that all websites should use https, does that mean that they also use it as a ranking factor? This is what this particular test aims to find out.
For this test, 5 identical pages were indexed and the number 3 ranking page was secured using a standard ssl certificate. The remaining 4 pages were http pages.
Initially, an echo of the old page using http remained in the serps. The secure https version of the page moved to the top position while the non-secure version of the page was in the number #2 position.
Eventually the non-secure version of the page disappeared and the secure version remained at the #1 position.
It seems very clear that Google uses the secure protocol, https, as a ranking factor.
Just a work of caution before proceeding with changing over your site to https, when you switch over to https, you will likely receive a drop in rankings before you get any benefit from the change.
A drop has been reported by several members of the SIA when switching.
The likely reason for the drop is that Google sees the https protocol as a different site. As you may have noticed in our test, initially, both secure and non-secure version of the page showed up, but eventually, the non-secure page disappeared.
As such, a clear plan is needed before moving over your site and note that the drop is temporary.
We recommend sending new, strong links into the secure site after the switch in protocols is made.
Check out Clint’s feedback and updates on Google and https as a ranking factor in the video below.
Test Number 44. Does a Page that Uses SSL Beat an Unsecure Page?
This test is actually older. It was when Google was pretty much trying to incentivize (force) everyone into getting an SSL certificate.
This is right around the same time that Let’s Encrypt came out. And that was making SSL certificates free.
That was a significant change because the registrars used to charge unnecessarily large amounts of money for SSL. And changed based on the standards of the SSL that you wanted to use.
As a matter of fact, I think a lot of those SSL still exist to this day primarily for the e-commerce crowd, those with shopping carts and stuff.
They wanted to make sure to get the best certificates that they could to protect their customers.
From a ranking perspective, when this came out, HTTPS was actually a ranking factor. Google notified everyone that it would be a ranking factor.
And they knew by doing such SEOs and SEO practitioners would get their clients, or business owners for themselves would go ahead and leverage HTTPS in order to get the benefits of the ranking factor versus just having HTTP.
I’ll tell you right now that this ranking factor is gone. We’re ranking pages, HTTP and HTTPS, intermixed inside of the search engines.
They have changed it over to giving you that non secure message inside of the browsers now and thinking that users are going to use that to facilitate the quality and trust of a website.
In my experience, this has not been the case. But all the browser’s are doing that now.
There’s so many messages for mixed content. If you have HTTPS on your site, and you share someone’s image and it’s not using a HTTPS URL, you’ll get a mixed content message on there.
It’s all a security thing that they’re bringing it up. But at the end of the day, Let’s Encrypt is free. And if I’m not mistaken, that’s actually a Google program.
They’re putting all these websites and using Let’s Encrypt. That may or may not become another data source for Google. Who knows.
But why do I even share this?
If I know they’re not giving a whole much more benefit? It’s not really a ranking factor thing now. Why? Why do I share it?
That’s because Core Web Vitals are coming out and they’ve followed the exact same model with amp. They followed the exact same model with mobile friendly.
SEOs fall into it every single time. “Oh, Google’s gonna give us something new! YEA! So happy! [sarcasm]
At the end of the day, what giveth, Google taketh away. And when you adapt to and use their new tools, or use their mode of the web that they think they want, they just remove it because everyone else is using it now.
They’ve accomplished what they want.
And I expect Core Vitals to kind of go along the same route.
PageSpeed optimization using PageSpeed Insights was the same route. Everyone started improving their pages and then the benefit of Page Speed optimization kind of went to the wayside.
Unless you’re fixing a 10 second site, and you’re getting it now to load in two seconds, you’re gonna see your ranking benefit.
Otherwise, for the most part, people don’t see ranking benefits from Page Speed optimization.
They may get user benefits, but not search engine benefits.
I expect the Core Web Vitals are going to go along the same thing.
They want you to fix some things like the web page jumping up and down a little bit when mobile users get into it. Cumulatively layout shift is what that is called.
They want the load speed to start render when people actually start interacting with your site. It’s a LCP, the largest contentful pain in Core Web Vitals.
That’s always been a thing.
They just renamed all these things that are all tools that are still there that have been there to the end, and they claim that they’re going to significantly change the search results for it.
They get you all to do it. They’ll implement it in May. Then they’ll mess up the search results when they set it in May. So they can say, look what happened! And then put everything back together and everyone’s gonna be right back to normal.
Everyone in the search results community is going to tell you, Look how fast you had to have your website! And look at all these people that have benefited from it… And there’s all those people that failed.
At the end of the day, 30days later, it’s all gonna be reversed because Google will have to fix their algorithm that they messed up when it was really Core web Vitals and the implementation of it.
So just be prepared with that.
If you’re new here, folks, you heard it here first. Google’s gonna givith. You’re going to get a slight bump up when Core Vitals comes out if you’re meeting their standard.
Then Google’s gonna taketh away.
When everyone is meeting their standard, they’re going to remove that ranking benefit from having a super fast, all greens website. From everybody.
No one’s gonna know.
No one’s gonna say anything.
No one’s gonna call them on it.
Then there’ll be some new technology that Google’s going to release an update and tell you that it’s gonna give you a benefit that you should adapt to.
It’s the circle of SEO life, unfortunately.