It’s no secret that Google uses a very fancy, confusing, and mostly secret combination of factors that helps the search engine rank websites. It has to. It has millions of websites it has to sift through, and it has to make sense of all these websites in a very quick and efficient manner. And, naturally, there are a lot of people trying to cheat Google and get to number one by spamming Google and pulling all sorts of tricks, and using all sorts of shortcuts.
With that said, Google’s secret sauce ranking system is too easy to get overly excited about. It’s too easy to make it into something bigger than it actually is. But, it’s also easy to underestimate these factors. You have to keep this in mind when thinking about the new ranking signals that Google is rolling out.
While it’s important to consider the different website factors that can influence how Google ranks that website or that website’s keyword targets, you have to keep a sense of perspective about it. The reality is that for the most part, backlinks are still the name of the game. Let’s face it. It will be a long time until Google is completely free of backlinks as a signal factor.
The reality is that Google has tried different factors in the past to rank websites and the results haven’t quite met Google’s quality standards. Matt Cuts himself admitted that Google ran some experiments in the past where they tried ranking websites without backlinks, and the quality just wasn’t there.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Google will never reach that stage. What it does mean is that backlinks are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. Be that as it may, it’s always a good idea to keep on top of recent changes in the signals Google is paying attention to. It’s always a good idea to be in the loop regarding how much weight Google weighs to these ‘signals’ regardless
Based on that, it is quite interesting to learn that Google now includes HTTPS in its ranking signals. Google will basically give you a bonus if some of your pages are in the HTTPS form.
What is HTTPS? HTTPS is a secure version of a webpage. It’s harder to fake HTTPS pages and they’re more secure for the end user. Since Google is trying to do its part in helping make the worldwide web as secure as possible, it is understandable why it’s giving website owners and webpage developers an incentive to help Google achieve its goal of a more secure web. With that said, here are some key factors to keep in mind when digesting this news.
HTTPS Ranks Signals Operate in Real Time
The interesting thing about the HTTPS ranking signal is that it is done on a real time basis. In other words, the moment you put up an HTTPS page, you get an SEO boost, whatever form that may take. Compare this with Google Penguin and Google Panda, where the actual weighing of the ranking signals is done in a batch basis. In other words, only when Google rolls out the update does your rank increase or decrease. Not with HTTPS. HTTPS fill the results immediately.
This Rank Signal is Independent of Penguin and Panda
Another key take away from the HTTPS ranking signal is that this is a standalone signal. This is not in conjunction with backlinks or with content page quality. It’s just its own separate signal. This is good news, because you might get penalized by some signals, and you might offset that with another signal. Standalone signals can only help you because you can pit one set of standalone signals against another set.
How Much Weight Does this Signal have?
This is the million dollar question. How much impact will converting your whole website into HTTPS have on your bottom line? You have to remember, the more SEO boosts you get, the more dollars in your bank account. It really is that simple.
The problem is that it’s still too early to tell. Moreover, certain sites will probably get a bigger boost than other websites, thanks to the way those sites are configured. Also, if your website is already highly optimized, considering the huge number of other signals Google is paying attention to, it might not help that much. Put it this way: it might not move you from number two to number one. It must be in conjunction with the other signals that Google factors in to your rank.
Every Little Bit Helps
This pretty much sums up the attitude SEOs should have regarding this particular ranking signal. It’s not a game changer, it’s not a magic bullet, it’s not a slam dunk solution to your low search engine rankings. If you got penalized by Google Penguin or Google Panda, you definitely have a lot bigger fish to fry that to try to boost your rankings with HTTPS.
Still, every little advantage counts. You have to remember that in many cases, the big difference between a number one-ranked website and a number two-ranked website may be a handful of ranking signals. The more of those ranking signals you get to work for you, the better it is for your overall search standings and overall online visibility.