It’s official. Google has announced that sites which use HTTPS may receive a boost in their ranking. Sites using HTTPS are more secure and for a little more than 12 months Google has been hinting that it will reward those sites. In August Google confirmed it with an announcement that sites using HTTPS will get some extra love in the form of a little boost in SEO. This has made people who use HTTPS very happy and has left some others wondering if they should immediately run out and find someone who can reconfigure their sites using HTTPS.

Google’s not so subtle nod to websites using HTTPS actually began in March 2014 when Matt Cutts, search master at Google, said he would prefer if SSL were an important part of search algorithms, insinuating there would be a preference for those sites that were more secure. Then on August 6, Google’s webmaster said on his blog that Google was ready for HTTPS to be adopted by more webmasters. Add that to Google’s earlier call for ‘HTTPS Everywhere’ and it’s not surprising that many webmasters began to migrate to HTTPS because of Google’s perceived preference for it.

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a more secure version of HTTP. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypts the sensitive information shared between customers and e-commerce sites. For sites which focus on accepting payments from customers, using SSL and HTTPS is a great way to add another layer of protection for all transactions. So it makes sense to use them. Plus about 70% of the market share of search engines is owned by Google, so if they recommend using SSL and HTTPS then that’s what e-commerce sites should do as part of their long-term SEO strategy.

Data breaches are a growing problem. It has shaken consumer confidence. Google’s announcement and encouragement makes the switch all the more important for businesses trying to get the most out of their SEO practices. Not everyone will benefit from the SEO boost of which Google spoke. As part of their statement Google pointed out that initially it would be a lightweight signal. Techies say that means only about 1% of Google’s customers will benefit from the SEO boost in the short term.

But keeping customers happy is paramount in any business. You don’t want customers feeling you’re playing fast and loose with their financial and other sensitive information. This will make them hesitant to do business on your site and will defeat the purpose of your investment in SEO. While you don’t have to immediately put all your resources into remaking your site using SSL and HTTPS, you should be making clear and significant steps in that direction.

Google has made it clear that HTTPS is the way to go. Techies say it will take about 12 months for HTTPS to significantly impact Google’s algorithm. As a company involved in providing SEO services you should let your customers know you are on the same page with Google and way ahead of curve when it comes to protecting their data.