Google announced late Wednesday afternoon that some formulaic changes are looming. In an attempt to better protect Internet users, Google will begin to include secure, encrypted HTTPS connections in their list of factors which determine search engine results. The news comes as little surprise as the Internet’s most powerful search engine has a history of altering their algorithms in efforts to stay current.

When conversational search through mobile devices became more prevalent, Google changed the landscape with their Hummingbird update.  By updating what results would display for particular searches based on factors like responsive design, immediacy and unique value, Google reinforced the idea that relevancy is essential.  The next logical thing for Google to respond to was clearly Internet security. Data security and privacy concerns are at an all-time high amongst Web browsers as the Snowden leaks and stories of Russian hackers have dominated the headlines.

Google webmaster trends analysts Zineb Ait Bahajji and Gary Illyes explained the focus on security in a blog post saying, “Over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.”

Google EncryptionThe blog goes on to explain that encryption is still miniscule when it comes to all of the factors that impact rankings. Quality websites that feature a responsive design, engaging content, compelling blog posts, and a presence on social media will all still rank well without encryption – for now. Like most Google updates it’s important for your business to understand that they are much more likely to grow in strength than deteriorate.  If Google is putting more of an emphasis on security, it’s a safe bet that encrypted websites will have a better chance of rising up the rankings. However, there is a cost involved.

The cost of encryption in the past was pretty prohibitive for the bottom line of a business. The monthly spend involved with a HTTPS address seemed futile when it often slowed down site response time. But technology has evolved over time and while encryption will still cost a site more on a monthly basis, response times should no longer be a factor.

Businesses must determine if paying the monthly bill for a secure, encrypted HTTPS connection will be worth the investment.  Like most things in the world of online marketing, the answer isn’t absolute. WebiMax believes that protecting your customers through a secured website is obviously a wise move. However, when it comes to rankings, companies can’t stop there. The secure website will only produce a return on investment if all other Internet marketing efforts are working in unison.

If you don’t have a secure, encrypted HTTPS connection, your rankings aren’t doomed. In fact, there are many things a marketing campaign should focus on first.  However, the message remains the same. A well-balanced website will always be in a better position to rank than its competitors. Encrypted connections are just another piece to an ever evolving puzzle.