Google said it will start giving websites higher search rankings if they ensure secure connections, keeping its users safe from online attacks and hacks.
Google is hoping to nudge developers towards embracing the implementation of TLS, or the Transport Layer Security, which uses a certificate to encrypt traffic to a website, seen as a small padlock symbol before the HTTPS in a URL.
"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," the company explains on its Webmaster Central blog. "We've seen positive results, so we're starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal."
While HTTPS is used mostly on electronic commerce and online banking sites, privacy and security advocates have asked that it be used on all websites, even on ones that may not require a high level of security.
Google said it won't penalize websites heavily for not using the security measure. The company said less than 1 percent of global queries will be affected by the decision. But after a sufficient amount of time is given for sites to switch over to HTTPS, the company will strengthen the penalizing of non-secure websites.
The rollout of HTTPS will be relatively easy for smaller sites as compared to larger organizations that use multiple servers.
While this could affect certain websites, Google does use other metrics, like content quality, to weigh its searches, but has signaled its intentions to favor secure websites in the future.