Continuing its commitment to secure search, Google announced today it will index a site’s HTTPS pages by default, even if an HTTP equivalent exists.
Google’s goal, it explains, is to eventually have everyone landing on a webpage with a private connection. In an effort to accomplish that goal, Google will now index only HTTPS pages when there is an HTTP equivalent. HTTPS pages are now the priority when both are available.
This is certainly a huge step forward from just earlier this year when Google was outright asking for help with identifying and indexing HTTPS URLs. Now Google is able to find a site’s HTTPS URLs without any assistance.
This is not to be confused with the rankings boost given to HTTPS pages back in August 2014. This will not place HTTPS pages appear higher in the rankings than they already would. It simply means that, when crawling a site, Googlebot will index the HTTPS version of a URL if both an HTTP and HTTPS versions are available.
I’ve heard some say they think this means HTTPS will receive some kind of ranking priority over other URLs. That is not the case. Google is simply trying to index fewer HTTP pages when there are HTTPS versions of the same page.
“Browsing the web should be a private experience between the user and the website, and must not be subject to eavesdropping, man-in-the-middle attacks, or data modification. This is why we’ve been strongly promoting HTTPS everywhere.”
The rankings boost given to pages with HTTPS URLs is said to be slight. You can think of it as a tie-breaker — with all else being equal, an HTTPS page will have an edge over a non-HTTPS page
A milestone for HTTPS was reached this past June, when the search giant announced the top ten sites with the most search impressions are now all HTTPS.
Of course, correlation does not always equal causation, but it is still a milestone worth noting since it illustrates how far HTTPS migration has come. It will be interesting to see how much the search impressions for HTTPS pages increase following today’s announcement.
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