Microsoft's Bing has no plans to rank websites higher if they use HTTPS encryption, unlike rival Google.
Instead, Bing prefers to "give searchers content they want," said Vincent Wehren, the lead program manager for Bing Webmaster Tools. Search Engine Land reported on Wehren's remarks from the Search Marketing Expo this week.
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, which is a way of encrypting communications over a network. In exchange for a slightly slower connection, HTTPS provides an added layer of security, so it's widely used by e-mail services, financial institutions and social networking sites. While some sites only turn on HTTPS during login, others such as Google and Twitter have enabled HTTPS on a site-wide basis. Sites that use encryption show "https" in the URL bar and have a padlock next to them.
Over the summer, Google started using HTTPS as a ranking signal, effectively penalizing sites that don't offer encryption. While the decision affects fewer than 1 percent of search queries for now, Google said it may strengthen this ranking signal over time. The idea is to encourage more webmasters to adopt HTTPS.
The story behind the story: Google's push for more website encryption may be tied to government surveillance. Following reports that the National Security Agency had managed to intercept communications to Google and Yahoo data centers, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said last year that the solution is to "encrypt everything." Bing apparently isn't interested in doing the same, though its smaller market share means it has less sway over the direction of the web to begin with.