Gary Illyes has said previously that HTTPS acts as a tie breaker in the Google search results. In the hangout this week with Bruce Clay, Illyes says that it acts as a tie breaker, but that it can also give an edge for websites in competitive market areas.
If you are in a competitive niche then it can give you an edge from Google’s point of view. With the HTTPS ranking boost, it acts more like a tie breaker. So for example, if all quality signals are equal for two results, then the one that is on HTTPS gets – or may get – the extra boost that is needed to trump the other result.
With this comment, it does make you wonder if HTTPS is having more of an impact on the rankings for more competitive search queries and if they tend to see more websites in competitive niches going HTTPS when compared to those websites in less competitive market areas.
He goes into more detail about why HTTPS is important and why he wishes that all sites would go HTTPS, but he also understands that not all sites will do it.
HTTPS is important for me and also for Google. I do wish that everyone on the Internet would go HTTPS to protect their users but of course, this is just wishful thinking. I hope that I see more and more websites on HTTPS because I think that privacy for example is important, but of course I can’t expect everyone to go HTTPS.
Some people don’t have the resources for that, some people just don’t want to do it because reasons, I don’t know. It’s important in general, but if you don’t do it, it’s perfectly fine.
So while there is no direct negative impact for not making the secure switch, if you are in a competitive market area, it could mean an increase in rankings. That said, you also have to deal with the site ranking fluctuations while Google reindexes and reranks the new URLs, although Google has said that shouldn’t have an impact of longer than 1-2 weeks.
It also means that the upcoming plans to make HTTPS a stronger signal haven’t happened yet, although I suspect when that happens we will get some warning as Google will likely use it as a way to encourage even more webmasters to make their sites HTTPS.
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