With Google now giving secured sites a slight boost in the search algorithm – and with the potential for that boost to be turned up even more – there have been plenty of webmasters who own content sites who are confident that this doesn’t apply to them.
But in actuality, content sites can definitely benefit from being secure, and Google is expecting all sites to go the HTTPS route, even regular content sites.
Some webmasters say they have “just a content site”, like a blog, and that doesn’t need to be secured. That misses out two immediate benefits you get as a site owner:
1. Data integrity: only by serving securely can you guarantee that someone is not altering how your content is received by your users. How many times have you accessed a site on an open network or from a hotel and got unexpected ads? This is a very visible manifestation of the issue, but it can be much more subtle.
2. Authentication: How can users trust that the site is really the one it says it is? Imagine you’re a content site that gives financial or medical advice. If I operated such a site, I’d really want to tell my readers that the advice they’re reading is genuinely mine and not someone else pretending to be me.
On top of these, your users get obvious (and not-so-obvious) benefits. Myself and fellow Googler and HNer Ilya Grigorik did a talk at Google I/O a few weeks ago that talks about these and a lot more in great detail:
Google I/O 2014 – HTTPS Everywhere
There had been many who assumed that if Google ever went to HTTPS that it would only apply to sites that were collecting some sort of personal information. Some speculated whether it could affect sites that only collect email addresses for a newsletter and nothing else. But it appears that Google won’t be making exceptions for any type of site.
It does make sense that Google wants to see all sites secured. And having a part of the search algorithm only apply to a certain segment of sites but not others, such as ones that collect personal information versus those that don’t, would be nearly impossibly to apply. And with sites changing all the time, a site that might not collect personal information might decide tomorrow to start collecting a lot of it from visitors.
There are many webmasters who knew this change would be coming but didn’t think this could affect them who will suddenly be scrambling to take a crash course in secure certificates for websites and how to implement them.
So bottom line, content sites or sites that don’t collect personal data are not going to be exempt from this. Or to put it another way, if your content site is among the first in your market area to make your site secure, you could potentially get a little extra boost – either now or when Google ramps the weighting up a bit more – and that just might be enough to bump you above your competitor.
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