Rich's Web Design - October Newsletter
- Another Google Panda Update -
- Google says "Time to Go Secure!" - 
- What is 'https://... ' ? -
- When Must You Switch to HTTPS? -
- RWD Client Changes -

Another Google Panda Update This past week, Google started a slow rollout of an improved Panda algorithm.  Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, Google has been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.

This new Panda algorithmic update reinforces the fact that Google is not a fan of thin content and that crawl efficiency along with serving clear and direct data messages to Google are becoming more important than ever.Remember my Sept. News about keeping FRESH CONTENT?  This is exactly what Google wants and will be rewarding site that have FRESH CONTENT!


Google Wants All Sites to Be Secure!  

Last month, Google announced their intention to use HTTPS as a Ranking Signal, the only search engine in the world at this time to do so. A few months back, Google reported that their testing had shown positive results when using encrypted connections as a signal in their ranking algorithm so they decided to add it as a permanent search ranking signal.

According to Google, HTTPS is currently a very lightweight signal which only affects
less than 1% of global queries. Of course they didn't say "which" specific queries are affected(you'll have to use your own imagination what those might be). At the time of this article, no one is reporting ranking changes they believe are based on this signal, either good or bad. Our current expectation of what you might see is that if two sites are perfectly equal, and one uses HTTPS and the other doesn't, then the secure page might rank above the other. Google also noted this signal is a lighter weight signal than most others, such as high quality content.

What this means to you as an SEO is that Google is sending you a very clear message that you'll be sure to notice. Google wants you to switch and they are offering a very small ranking increase as a carrot. Google has already indicated several times that in the future the HTTPS signal may become a larger factor in the algorithm - and we expect them to follow through with that promise.


What is 'https://... ' ? Like us, you're probably wondering why all sites, such as non-ecommerce, or content only sites would need to use a secure server?

  1. Data integrity: Only by serving securely can you guarantee that someone is not altering how your content is received by your users. How many times have you accessed a site on an open network or from a hotel and got unexpected ads? This is a very visible manifestation of the issue, but it can be much more subtle.

  2. Authentication: How can users trust that the site is really the one it says it is? Imagine you're a content site that gives financial or medical advice. If I operated such a site, I'd really want to tell my readers that the advice they're reading is genuinely mine and not someone else pretending to be me.

There are likely more reasons Google wants to nudge us all to secure servers that they haven't disclosed such as the fact that it raises the bar to run a successful Web site and can also help them identify the site ownership better, which may lead to less spam. Perhaps it's more of a political message to get back at the NSA by making it harder for government agencies to sniff what content you're consuming? There's certainly been a lot of that going on lately in the news. Hopefully there are plenty of good reasons because the implementation costs World Wide to go secure are going to be immense.


When Must You Switch to HTTPS?
Based on Google's past history, we're estimating that we have about 2 YEARS before an insecure Web site becomes a critical problem for SEO. To be clear, we are NOT saying wait 2 years to make the switch. We're telling you that from this moment on, you'll see the secure server ranking signal slowly increasing in importance, but your site's rankings are not where the immediate threat is...


RWD Client Changes to https:// ...   I will be switching clients ( to https:// ... ) that have ongoing 'maintenance contracts', then I will handle each hourly client one at a time. 


Have a Great October 2014 !