Post-Heartbleed, Google considers using encryption as a ranking signal

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by Brafton Editorial
Search rankings may one day in be impacted by how private and secure companies make their websites.

Recently, the entire internet was put on edge by Heartbleed, a security issue that left much of the web susceptible. Heartbleed is a vulnerability that can make previously secure passwords, usernames and other data available to duplicitous webmasters. Many social media networks and ecommerce sites were affected, prompting calls around the web for users to change their passwords.

Marketing securely on the web

According to the Wall Street Journal, there have been hints from Google’s Matt Cutts that better security might soon an SEO strategy. In fact, it’s possibile in the not-too-distant future that pages with strong encryption will see higher rankings on SERPs. Of course, there’s no evidence security has been integrated into search algorithms, but like many other semantic signals, there’s no reason to believe it won’t.

The Heartbleed saga raises another issue for content marketing campaigns: Privacy. Heartbleed is an SSL vulnerability, meaning information users take for granted as safe and secure might be visible and exploitable. As Brafton has previously reported, most customers are hesitant when it comes to giving up private demographic information.

The company is open to any data that might help it provide people with better results down the road, so nothing is off limits. And as the internet changes, so will algorithms.

Safe sites = best sites?

Though Google has ideas for what the internet should look like years from now, the search giant can’t predict exactly how users will interact with the web in a decade. Ranking signals are subject to change, and recent events like the Heartbleed bug can have a major impact on the regular trajectory of search trends. As Brafton reported, the company is open to any data that might help it provide people with better results down the road, so nothing is off limits. And as the internet changes, so will algorithms.

Security and opacity are both valuable attributes for sites, particularly as the population of web users swells. While good content and valuable information is today’s primary search and visibility currency, it isn’t a stretch to see privacy and data protection as an additional marker of value in the semantic web’s future. This is just another way brands can demonstrate value via web marketing – customers’ needs should be the foremost concern, no matter what shape those needs take.

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