Google said to be eyeing a boost to encrypted sites in search results

The move, in early discussions, would add a layer of security for Web users

Websites that use encryption could be elevated in Google search results sometime in the future, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The algorithm change was hinted at by Matt Cutts, a top Google engineer, at the SMX West marketing conference last month the report said. Cutts is in charge of combating spam in search results and acts as the liaison between Google's search team and website designers who track changes made to Google's search algorithms.

Some early-stage internal discussions at Google have also taken place on incorporating encryption into Google's search algorithm rankings, the report said. The move would add a layer of security for Web users, while also giving companies an incentive to prioritize encrypting data.

"We have nothing to announce at this time," a Google spokeswoman told the IDG News Service.

Google's algorithms incorporate a range of signals that determine search-result prominence. Placing encrypted sites higher in the mix would serve as a signal of its own on the importance of security, amid concerns over cyberattacks and government surveillance.

Google has used HTTPS encryption, which is designed to cloak traffic flowing between its data centers and users, for services such as Gmail and Search for some time now.

The elevated rankings could help drive more people to those sites and keep their data secure, if the encryption is effective. Flaws recently discovered in the OpenSSL protocol, a major encryption method across the Web, have shown that some established security safeguards are not rock solid.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is

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