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Secure sites ‘offer no difference’ to rank

Richard Bell

Industry research has suggested that HTTPS sites do not have better search rankings than HTTP pages.

This backs up Google’s insistence that a tweaking of its algorithms would not have a wide-ranging effect.

Earlier this year, the search  engine giant said that it was amending its algorithm so that secure sites, those with an HTTPS prefix, would be recognised in the way it puts it rankings together. With many concerned about the security of their personal data online, a number of analysts saw this as a sensible move.

However, Californian-based Google commented that the changes would carry minimal weight in the overall picture. As we understood the directive at Pressroom, the slight alteration to rankings would only affect 1% of websites at the most.

Now, research seems to have backed up these assertions.

Marketing software provider Searchmetrics has said that after extensive analysis, there is no discernible difference between HTTP and HTTPS sites. The firm said that it looked at the average rankings across the board, before calculating the aggregate SEO (search engine optimisation) visibilities and then comparing over time the two curves created.

The results found that there was no reportable difference, except for a small spike in June of this year. That is when Google first announced it was ranking against the security of a site, so was in many ways to be expected.

Further investigation of these figures, however, showed that only a small number of websites were responsible for this lift, as they moved to secure platforms. Discounting them, the results showed even less appreciable differences.

Standing for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, the majority of websites carry just the HTTP prefix. Secure sites, meanwhile, are additionally highlighted with HTTPS, with the ‘S’ standing for an encrypted protocol known as a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

This encryption should protect users when entering personal data on websites, ensuring that it cannot be interrogated by any external programmes running through web browsers.

Richard has a First in English Literature and Creative Writing, and has experience writing fiction and short stories (which he has published both online and in magazines).

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