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Website security will now influence Google search rankings

Webmasters will need to secure their sites to stay on top.

By Jimmy Nicholls

Google has begun to assess website security as part of its ranking algorithm.

Websites using secured HTTPS protocols are now being promoted in the firm’s search rankings, though only 1% of queries globally are said to be affected.

Webmaster trend analysts Zineb Ait Bahajji and Gary Illyes said: "Over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms.

"We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal."

Security carries less weight in the algorithm than the quality of the content, but Google may alter the weighting in the future to encourage webmasters to better protect their users.

Users of the company’s search, Gmail and Drive storage services already have HTTPS connections by default, and Google will be publishing security best practice guides to encourage others to follow their example.

Jason Hart, VP of cloud solutions at security firm SafeNet, said: "Every company wants to rank favourably on Google, so it’s in their best interest to ensure web pages are encrypted.

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"Previously organisations have shied away from encryption due to cost concerns or fears of slowing website response times, but there are now high speed encryption technologies available that mean cost and speed need no longer be an issue."

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