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Google announces plans to use HTTPS as a ranking signal

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One of the world’s most powerful Internet companies is using its leverage to prod other websites into adopting a key safeguard against malicious hackers who try to steal Internet users’ passwords or eavesdrop on their online activity. 

This comes in light of NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealing that the US government was exploiting personal data, particularly through huge holes in unencrypted websites.

Since 2010, Google has experimented with encrypting search results and over the last 12 months they have also taken strides towards encrypting all their services. This suggests that this could be the norm for websites in the future.

Users can tell if a website is encrypted if its address begins with ‘HTTPS’. The S stands for secure.

Google said that although HTTPS will affect less than one per cent of search queries globally, this may change over time as the search giant encourages site owners to put more emphasis on security measures.

And although encrypting websites will cost extra money, businesses could lose even more if they fall out of Google’s favour.

Here are some basic tips from Google to get started:

  • Decide on the type of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate;
  • Use 2048-bit key certificates;
  • Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain;
  • Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains;
  • Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt;
  • Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible; and
  • Avoid the no index robots meta tag.

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