Google: More First Page URLs In Search Results Are HTTPS Relative To The URLs On The Web


At Search Marketing Expo East, Google’s Gary Illyes presented on an HTTPS panel and shared some very interesting data and history on Google’s HTTPS ranking signal.

Page One Search Results More Likely To Contain HTTPS Urls

Gary explained that while only 10% of the crawled and discovered URLs on the web are HTTPS URLs, that 30% of the first page search results contain at least one or more HTTPS URLs. So if you are looking at all the queries done on Google, 30% of the first page of the Google search results for each of those queries have at least one HTTPS URL listed in the results.

He didn’t know why that was the case but he said it was indeed something Google noticed and wanted to share.

Gary Illyes Is To Blame For The HTTPS Signal

Gary admitted on stage that bringing HTTPS as a ranking signal was not only his idea but that he implemented it into the algorithm himself. He said that back in March, he brought the idea to the head of search spam, Matt Cutts. Matt Cutts was excited about the idea, so they immediately began working on it and testing it. In July it was ready to go and in August they launched it.

Gary said, he was the engineer who coded it into the ranking algorithm.

HTTPS Is Still A Small Ranking Signal

Gary said the HTTPS signal in the algorithm is still small. It impacts less than 1% of all queries and he would compare it more to the PageSpeed algorithm versus something larger like Panda.

Future Changes To HTTPS In Ranking

Gary shared a lot of details about some “brainstorm” sessions they had about possible changes they can make to HTTPS as a ranking signal. Let me be clear, he said these are just ideas and most, if not all, are NOT being worked on by Google or even tested.

On idea that is being worked on is handling “broken certificates,” i.e. security certificates that do not work at all or other issues with the certificate such as content mismatch errors and if they will lead to a demotion in the rankings or substituting it out for the HTTP version, if possible.

Other ideas they have brainstormed but are not working on include looking to see of the e-commerce checkout process is all over HTTPS, if login credentials are done over HTTPS and the cipher strength of the certificate is at a certain level or not.

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