Almost a year ago, Google made an announcement on its Webmaster blog that HTTPS will start being used as a search ranking signal. Their reasoning is that Google would like to see more security on the web to deter hackers. But what exactly does that mean, "HTTPS," for those of us who don't do on-line transactions or collect sensative information?
First, let us address what exactyly HTTP and HTTPS are. Here is what it looks like:
http://www.yourwebsite.com (no encryption)
https://www.yourwebsite.com (site is encrypted)
The difference is the "s" at the end of http. So to spell it all out, the first website example is Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. The second site example is Hyper Test Trasfer Protocol Secure. Most sites that do not do any ecommerce or collect sensetive personal informatiom have a regualar HTTP website. Meaning that the information passed between the website and the browser is not encrypted. It almost sounds a little ridiculous to encrypt your site when the only information shared is product or service information. So why do it?
Google has made it clear that having a secure site is a relativly small percentage of search ranking factors. As far as search engine optimization is concerned, there are many, many, many more search ranking factors that you need to focus on to get your site recognized. However, it would be wise to include getting an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) the next time you redesign or do any kind of major overhaul to your website. I suspect that as website security becomes more important and hackers get more aggressive, Google will adjust its search factor weights accordingly. Better to be ahead of the game then playing catch-up.