Google Could Rank Websites That Use Encryption Higher In Its Search Results

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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Google considers rating encrypted websites higher in its search results

Google is looking at ways to rank websites that use encryption above those that don’t employ such strong security measures in its search results, Matt Cutts, the company’s head of Webspam team has revealed at the SMX West conference.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this is not the first time Cutts has suggested that Google’s search algorithms could consider encryption as a benefit, although he stressed that this kind of change is not likely to happen soon.

Encryption can make online communications more secure, and prevent eavesdropping by intelligence agencies. Google is currently implementing encryption across its own services, in the wake of revelations about surveillance practices employed by the US national Security Agency (NSA) and GCHQ.  Its largest competitors – Microsoft and Yahoo – are doing the same.

Brownie points

More and more organisations are turning to encryption as the means to safeguard the privacy of their customers, including Facebook, Wikipedia and file hosting service Mega, launched by Kim Dotcom.

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Cutts, who started working for Google back in 2000, has become something of an ambassador for the company’s notoriously secretive search team, explaining the underlying mechanisms of the search engine and the changes in its algorithms.

These changes often have a serious impact, as website administrators try to gain more exposure on the world’s largest search engine. Google already downgrades the ranking of websites that are known to load slowly, host malware or send out spam.

In October 2013, it emerged that the NSA could have harvested massive amounts of information going through the fibre optic channels connecting data centres owned by Yahoo and Google. Microsoft assumed that its network infrastructure had also been compromised. It is thought that encryption could prevent such episodes form happening in the future.

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