A promised SEO lift for websites sporting a HTTPS protocol is taking its time to kick in, according to new research.

After hearing that Google would be using HTTPS as a ranking signal, digital marketing software provider Searchmetrics began a comparison between the suffix and the more commonly used HTTP title.

Despite Google strongly recommending sites to switch over to the address for improved security, and offering SEO support as an incentive, the study concluded that “no relationships have been discernible to date from the data analyzed by us between HTTPS and rankings”.

The study also noted few differences between HTTP and HTTPS rankings, adding weight to the theory that Google is yet to properly roll out its new update.

SEO no-go

Tests from Searchmetrics saw the examination of hundreds of thousands of keywords to find whether Google had managed to reward websites carrying the secure address.

Although an uptick in rankings was noted, this occurred long before the engine made its announcement last month, with 2012 proving to be a big year for HTTPS visibility.

The group added that as HTTPS only affects around 1% of search queries worldwide, finding areas which had been affected by Google’s changes may have been difficult.

Overall the results show that although a fair number of websites have already switched over to HTTPS for enhanced user security, they may have to wait until their move pays dividends in terms of SEO.    

Secure browsing

Standing for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, HTTPS combines the structure of a HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) domain on top of a secure TLS protocol, thus adding an extra layer of protection to what is otherwise a standard address.

As well as being responsible for the added ‘S’ on HTTP, TLS and its predecessor, SSL, allow web servers to transmit sensitive information via an enhanced method of encryption.

In a typical process, a website sporting the HTTPS protocol will allow two computers to communicate through a symmetric key which is discarded after their session has ended.

Web users will note the presence of a HTTPS-powered conversation when a small padlock appears at the top of their browser.