Almost a third of search results on the first page of Google now use the HTTPS protocol, according to a new study by software-as-a-service provider Moz. Prior to Google’s major algorithm update nearly two years ago, just seven per cent of pages used HTTPS, but this has now increased to 32.5 per cent as of late June.
Google made its official announcement that HTTPS was becoming a ranking signal back in August 2014, but not many major sites were quick to jump on board, as it was speculated that there were few benefits to making the transition. The adoption rate surged to more than 20 per cent in mid-2015 after Wikipedia switched to HTTPS, and it has been steadily increasing ever since.
The data was compiled by Dr Peter J. Meyers, and he has predicted that around half of first-page search engine results will be comprised of HTTPS pages and sites by the end of 2017, which could prompt Google to strengthen the ranking signal for the protocol soon after. The gradual progression of HTTPS usage over the last 24 months suggests that Google’s own PR campaign has been more effective than any updates it has released.
While four of the five biggest sites in the tracking data – Wikipedia, Amazon, Facebook and YouTube – now run HTTPS, there have been concerns in the past about the risks involved. Myers notes that website owners should weigh the time and money involved with migrating against the benefits of receiving a minor boost in algorithm. Earlier this year, tech news site Wired.com documented its woes while attempting to make the switch, a venture that it has since decided to hold off from for the time being.
Making the switch
Meyers concludes that while every publisher or website might not be set on adopting the HTTPS protocol right now, they should at least recognise that there is a notable shift towards doing so and that a potential algorithm update could arrive within the next 12 months. He added that it is best to be aware of the uptake in each industry and act accordingly.