In a push for greater online security, Google is giving websites that use site encryption a small boost in search-engine rankings. The move announced late Wednesday involves a change in Google's closely guarded algorithm for determining the rankings of its search results. Websites that automatically encrypt their services will now be boosted higher in Google's recommendation system. For now, encryption will remain a small factor in Google's ranking formula, and the security of a website will carry less weight in ranking compared with other factors such as high-quality content. Google said it may put greater emphasis on the security measure in the future as part of its campaign to make it tougher for government spies and computer hackers to grab the personal data of unwitting Web surfers. Users can tell if a website is encrypted if its address begins with "https." "We hope to see more websites using HTTPS in the future," Google said in a blog post.
— Associated Press and NBC News staff