Google regularly attracts criticism for the obscure way that it manages rankings on its search results - particularly from those who accuse it of downgrading companies which offer services that rival its own. But its latest move may well draw praise for helping to boost online security.
As ZDNet reports, Google has adjusted its search ranking algorithms to list sites which use HTTPS higher on its search results than those that do not. So far, this has been implemented as part of a months-long trial, and only in a limited capacity, but the company has much broader plans.
"We've seen positive results, so we're starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal," said Google's Zineb Ait Bahajji and Gary Illyes, on the company's Online Security Blog. "For now it's only a very lightweight signal - affecting fewer than one percent of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content - while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS."
The company hopes to extend this practice further though: "...Over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we'd like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web." In the weeks ahead, Google will be detailing 'best practice' guidance on implementing HTTPS.