A couple of weeks ago Google announced that it would be using HTTPS URLs as a “lightweight ranking signal”. I have not switched any sites yet, but I thought it would be interesting to observe what has happened to client sites that were already using HTTPS URLs.

I took out a few outliers – one site had a lot of publicity, another implemented some SEO upgrades – but the rest had not done anything out of the ordinary to make their traffic go one way or another. There also may be some seasonality at play, but six out of nine HTTPS sites are on their way up.  It’s also interesting that most of the “product” e-commerce sites are down while “service” e-commerce sites are up.

So the answer is…maybe.

Google Traffic to HTTPs Sites 8/3-8/23 v 7/13-8/2

Directory Site: Up 40% From Small Base
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 9.50.38 PM

Service E-Commerce Site: Up 14%
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 10.14.11 PM

Travel Site: Up 9%
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 9.56.52 PM

Service E-Commerce Site: Up 5% After Flat For 2 Months
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 9.49.23 PM

Service E-Commerce Site: Up 4% After Flat for 1 Month
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 9.52.52 PM

Clothing E-Commerce: Up 3%

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 10.03.46 PM

Product E-Commerce Site: Down 1% But Trending Upwards Since 8/3
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 9.43.45 PM

Food E-Commerce: Down 3%
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 10.02.31 PM

Clothing E-Commerce Site: Down 4%
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 10.13.05 PM


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8 Response Comments

  • Debra  August 25, 2014 at 8:48 am

    So might this mean that the new https:// URLs are squeezing out the e-commerce URLs that legitimately need secure domains?

    • Andrew Shotland  August 25, 2014 at 9:03 am

      Debra, I was thinking that because so many e-commerce sites already are https that the decreases may have come from factors not associated with the update. Or it could be that more sites are moving into https and squeezing them out.

  • Joshua Rodriguez  August 25, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    I think the important thing to remember here is that https is being used as a low value ranking signal. There are so many other signals out there that if you’ve got a solid strategy, getting a security certificate may not be important for your site. Thanks for sharing your study!

  • Andrew Shotland  August 25, 2014 at 12:54 pm


    Agreed that the jury is out on how important this is. The fact that a number of https URLs saw organic traffic boosts immediately after this announcement is what compelled me to put this data forth. While I can’t say it’s 100% the https thing, it sure looks that way.

  • Phil Rozek  August 25, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Good stuff, Andrew.

    Have you tried encryption for a non-e-commerce site? In the name of science?

  • Andrew Shotland  August 25, 2014 at 1:50 pm


    Am trying to convince a client that has nothing left to lose to go for it.

    BTW the directory site at the top is not e-commerce.

  • Bill  September 9, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    how are you guys doing the https sites, force only https with Strict-Transport-Security or leaving both http and https live?

    • Andrew Shotland  September 9, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      Most of these have http 301 to https