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HTTP or HTTPS for better search rankings?

HTTP or HTTPS for better search rankings? - answered by Matt Cutts

Summary:

The website will definitely not be penalized. On the contrary – Google might reward you for the fact that it’s more secure. Of course there is always a trade-off between security and speed, but usually it’s a rare case when speed is so low that it affects someone’s rankings. At the same time a fair amount of work is being done to improve the speed of HTTPS by removing unnecessary slowness. Also – Google is working on several projects to make the web faster in general.

 

Matt's answer:

By design, HTTPS is slower than HTTP. Considering Google’s focus on speed, does that mean my site will be penalized if I switch to HTTPS?

 

No, I wouldn’t worry about that. In fact, it can be a very good idea to switch your site to HTTPS. HTTPS, or SSL, is a secure version of HTTP that encrypts things between your browser and the web server. So that keeps your boss, or your ISP, or your government from snooping on whatever is happening on that connection, unless they can do some crazy Mission Impossible, man-in-the-middle attack. And those are relatively rare. But let’s get back to the question.

 

By design, HTTPS is slower than HTTP

 

There is a certain amount of encryption overhead that has to happen, because HTTPS is encrypted. But there’s a lot of unnecessary slowness. So a lot of the people on the Google Chrome team have been working on different protocols. SPDY is one. And also, I think False Start might be the name of another one, where instead of having to set up the connection, and then have an acknowledgment, and set up the connection in order to be able to send the data in encrypted ways, you could just send the data as encrypted immediately. HTTPS can be a really good thing for users. And so there’s a lot of work ongoing to sort of say “OK, people haven’t really paid attention to how to make SSL or how to make HTTPS fast.” And it turns out there’s a lot of low hanging fruit there. And some of it might be a fair amount of work, but it’s probably worth doing.

 

I would not worry about being penalized. Only like one in 100 searches, which means one in 1,000 websites, is so low on page speed, that it actually affects its ranking, whereas HTTPS can be a really good thing for users. So if you do a search for PayPal, for example, you’ll see that they use the HTTPS version. We’ve looked through our indexing code, and we’ve tried to make sure that any time where someone might want to use an HTTPS version of their site, they won’t be disadvantaged. We’re going to continue to be looking through that, making sure that everything should run smoothly on our side.

 

We’re going to keep trying to make HTTPS faster

 

If you’re thinking about starting your site and you want it to be secure from the beginning, it’s not a bad time to go ahead and make that switch. And then we’ll keep looking for ways to make HTTPS even faster, share best practices, look at ways that we can do like mod_pagespeed, which was an Apache plug-in that basically will make everything faster. And then there’s also a page speed service that we’ve just recently started to roll out. When someone comes to your content, you’ve set your DNS to be handled by Google. Google can rewrite all the inline images, and minify the JavaScript, and all the stuff for you to where you might save 25% to 60% of the time just by handling page speed. So we’re going to keep trying to make HTTPS faster. We’re going to try to keep making the web faster. And hopefully, you’ll come along with us for the ride.


by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team

 

Original video: