Last week Google announced that the use
of a secure connection would now be a factor in how it ranks websites
in search results. This means that, all else being equal, a website
using HTTPS by default would rank higher than a website which doesn't.
HTTPS is a way of securing connections between a webserver and a user's browser. When a website is configured to use HTTPS the information transferred between the client and the server is encrypted.
This offers a number of benefits to users including improving privacy. With a HTTPS connection it's possible for a 3rd party to determine that a user is visiting a website (e.g. www.uxblondon.com) but not which pages on the site they're visiting.
This update to Google's search result rankings should therefore be seen in the context of a number of updates to Google's search algorithms which reward websites providing a good user experience, even though the website's users may not immediately notice the benefit.
Initially the use of a secure connection will only be a small factor in how Google ranks web pages, only having an effect on less than 1% of searches. However, Google say that over time this may become a more important factor. It should be noted however that good content will remain the most important element in a website's search engine rankings. If your website isn't performing at all for the most important keywords you shouldn't assume that switching to HTTPS would solve your SEO problems.
We recommend that website managers begin switching their sites to using HTTPS by default, especially those who face a high level of competition for their most important keywords where this change will have the most impact for now. Those in less competitive industries will, for the time being, be less affected by this change but should switch anyway to be prepared if, as seems likely, Google increase the importance of this metric in their search rankings.
At the same time it should be remembered that a secure connection is only a minor factor in a website's search results rankings and that content is still king.