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Google weighs preferential treatment for encrypted websites

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Encrypt and rank higher

Although the Heartbleed Bug is a reminder that online security is still very much a work in progress, a key Google engineer is looking at new ways to shore up the internet, including featuring encrypted sites more prominently in the company's search results.

The Wall Street Journal reported the search giant is exploring new ways to leverage its sizable influence in the online community to push for the widespread adoption of website encryption.

One of the ways Google hopes to accomplish this task is by offering incentives to websites who play ball, which could include a "boost" in search engine results for those that encrypt data between end users and company servers.

Leading the charge is Matt Cutts, a so-called "distinguished engineer" at Google, who recently offered some insight into the company's internal discussions during a recent Search Marketing Expo (SMX) in San Jose, Calif.

One man's opinion?

Cutts certainly has credentials powerful enough to shape such change, but according to a separate report from Search Engine Land, the concept may only be one man's opinion at this early stage.

"[Cutts] said it was his personal opinion and not everyone within Google agreed with him at this point," elaborated news editor Barry Schwartz.

The Journal report noted internal discussions about encryption are still in the early stages and nothing is planned soon.

Although web experts may be divided on adopting website encryption across the board, few can dispute that an additional level of online security can only be a good thing for end users.

For example, such a change could ultimately benefit websites looking for new ways to game Google's search results, which currently penalizes internet portals offering malicious software or whose sites load slower than expected.

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