On August 7th, 2014, Google announced that it was going to provide a rankings boost to sites setup with SSL over those that were not (HTTPS vs. HTTP). The above linked post makes it clear that “For now it’s only a very lightweight signal”, but how small?
In today’s post, I will share:
The team at seoClarity wanted to find out, so they did a detailed study to see how much it might count. As part of this study they looked at rankings across 50,000 keyword searches and 218,000 domains. They monitored these rankings over time, and observed which URLs in the SERPs changed from HTTP to HTTPS after August 7th, and whether or not the rankings changed after the changeover. The study ran for 6 weeks, from August 10th to September 21st 2014.
HTTPS Study Data
Of the 218,000 sites looked at, only 630 (0.3%) of them made the switch to HTTPS by September 21st. [Tweet This!]
Among the sites that made the switch, it took some time for Google to register the switch over to HTTPS. seoClarity measured this on a URL by URL basis, and only for the URLs these sites presented in the sampled search results. As a result, the chart below shows the switchover only for those URLs, not the whole site:
One of the key aspects of HTTPs is that it has an immediate impact as John Mueller indicated in this video (The link takes you to the point in the video where this is discussed, credit to Barry Schwartz for tagging this). For that reason, if the rankings boost was significant, you’d expect to see it in the SERPs as soon as the new URL was indexed.
seoClarity directly measured the results of the rankings for the URLs that made the switchover, and here is what they found:
As you can see, there was actually a slight decrease in ranking, but the movement shown here is actually not significant. The way to read this data is that the general movement of SERPs over time was far more significant than any ranking boost received.
This pretty much confirms that Google told us – that any ranking impact is so small that it’s not noticeable, even in a test of this scale. [Tweet This!]
The numbers are in, and they tell us to not rush off to convert your site to HTTPS as part of your plan for world SEO domination. It’s a tiny factor at best.
However, there are many other reasons to convert to HTTPS. Consider this service uncovered by Google’s Pierre Far that allows people to remotely edit content read on wireless devices. If your site is HTTPS, they can’t do that to you.
Security issues are a big deal, and HTTPS is one step you can take to keep control over your own content. For more on how to make the switch, please download the full conversion guide here. You can also get the seoClarity study here.
Eric Enge leads the Digital Marketing practice for Perficient Digital. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO. Learn More About Eric Enge