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Google’s Search Results May Give Secure Websites an Advantage in the Future

Secure Sites May Rank Better in Google’s Search Results in the Future

Google is contemplating tweaking its search engine algorithm so that secured websites receive a higher ranking on its search engine results than unsecured websites. Matt Cutts, who heads the search spam division at Google also echoed a similar sentiment at an SMX West event.

He said that he would personally like to see Google reward sites with better security with a higher ranking. However, Matt Cutts has also said that discussions on encryption at Google are still early stage and that there will not be any changes anytime soon.

By changing search engine results in favor of secure websites, Google will be giving companies a reason to make the switch. In the long run, spying on website users will also become harder because of the heightened security.

Matt Cutts is popular in the search engine world as a liaison between the search team at Google and web designers. He has also spoken about the topic in private conversations, said a person who knows the subject. Encrypting internet data creates a barrier between internet users and would-be hackers and spammers who would like to snoop on the users’ activities to steal information.

Google Already Uses a Number of Algorithm Tweaks to Determine Ranking

Google is known to use its algorithm to promote certain actions and discourage some others. Sites that contain malicious software suffer in rankings, as do those that take a lot of time to load. All in all, Google uses more than 200 signals to help it determine the rankings of sites. By adding encryption to the list, the company would give websites an incentive to adopt website security.

Note that encryption alone cannot guarantee safety. The google lock SSLrecent discovery of HeardBleed- an OpenSSL exploit is proof enough. OpenSSL is a popular scheme for encryption and its use it widely prevalent. The exploit affected more than half a million websites, leaving them open to tampering. It is now being called the most dangerous bug in the web’s history. Anyone who knew of the bug’s existence, could exploit it to gain access to the most sensitive data.

To make a website more secure, website administrators should proactively search for loopholes and if they find any, plug them. Who knows, maybe the world may not have not known about the HeartBleed bug if a kind system administrator or hacker had not alerted the world about it.

How Could Google’s Insistence on Security Certificates for Websites Affect Businesses?

Making small website switch to SSL technology is easy enough, but for large websites, it can be really difficult because that would need a lot of testing and reconfiguration. Security certificates are not very expensive (depending on the company), but there could be a higher cost if you want to migrate older and larger sites to the new structure.

SEO specialists may also find it a bit of a bother if a site’s URL migrates to HTTPS from HTTP. Google also ranks content on the basis of unique URLs, so the migration can cause a website’s ranking to go down, at least in the short term.

Cutts did not say that Google will adopt the move, but he is a senior search engineer at Google and his words do carry some influence. If Google adopts the policy, his work would also become easier. Google has to be careful here. Rewarding sites for increased security might create some drawbacks in the short term. Companies who are always trying to trick Google into awarding them a higher rank may benefit, compared to those that have better content.