Google currently has a 70% market share in the search engine optimization industry. As a result of being, by far, the biggest search engine out there, Google has the ability to throw its weight around in determining what websites people view. This week, it made the power of this influence clear by announcing that it would change its search formula to promote more secure websites, in a move to protect consumers using its services.Google’s algorithm will now boost up in search rankings websites that automatically encrypt their services. When sites are secured, it is more difficult for hackers, the government, and other entities to steal personal data. Google says that, for the moment, it will only be a small factor in their overall algorithm — however, over time, they may increase its importance so as to ensure that consumers have a more secure experience no matter where they go on the web.Consumers can already tell if a website is encrypted, because the address will read “https.” This move, though, will essentially place a real pressure on the millions of websites that rely on Google search results to net potential customers. “This is the ultimate carrot for websites,” said Christopher Saghoin for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Why has Google decided to make this change? The intent isn’t only altruistic. There have been several high profile hacking cases and data security revelations in the past year, including Target’s breach, Snowden’s reveal, and the recent gang of Russian hackers who managed to amass more than 1.2 billion passwords. If these security issues become enough of a concern that people become wary of web searching, it could cut in on Google’s own profits.
Undoubtedly, this announcement will impact the world of search engine optimization, or SEO. As an industry that sprang up in order to address the need of websites to rank higher for their relevant keywords, these marketing companies have to quickly react to any known change in the algorithm.
“This will cost people more money to ensure that their websites and encrypted, once again Google holds the keys to online business,” says Marcy Moore, VP of Sales at MorePro Marketing. “There’s always going to be good and bad in every decision making process, but in this decision it does cost people more revenue spend.”
That said, search will largely be the same experience as usual, as Google will continue to promote quality and relevance as the most important factors in its equation.