Google Has Given HTTPS A Huge Boost

calendarJuly 7, 2014 in HTTPS , HttpWatch , Optimization , SPDY , SSL

For a while now there’s been talk of Google favoring secure HTTPS pages in its results. We just noticed this week that any Google searches for content on our web site now return secure HTTPS URLs instead of HTTP:

Google HTTPS Results

It’s not clear when this happened but a quick check on our web server shows that nearly 75% of all connections were HTTPS:

HTTPS Connections Chart

Only a year or so ago HTTPS connections only made up about 10% of all connections. The percentage of HTTPS URLs being used is only going to increase as more people find HTTPS based results on Google and then share them in web pages, emails and social media.

So if your site supports based HTTP and HTTPS then HTTPS is now the most important in terms of optimising performance. The good news if that HTTPS isn’t necessarily much slower than HTTP and may be even faster if you support SPDY.

UPDATE July 7, 2014: There’s been a lot of interest in this post and some people have been jumping on the SEO implications of this. We’re not implying that your site will get ranked higher than other sites if you have HTTPS. What we’re saying is that if your site has both HTTP and HTTPS versions of the same content that Google will now return an HTTPS link. The biggest implication is that if you support HTTPS most of traffic will now be using HTTPS rather than HTTP.

UPDATE August 6, 2014 – Google has confirmed that HTTPS will be used as a ranking signal in Google Search.

You can check SSL/TLS configuration our new SSL test tool SSLRobot . It will also look for potential issues with the certificates, ciphers and protocols used by your site. Try it now for free!


HttpWatch 9.2: SSL handshake and Protocol Information in Firefox

calendarFebruary 14, 2014 in Firefox , HTTPS , HttpWatch , SSL

HttpWatch 9.2 is now available for download and brings the level of SSL reporting in Firefox up to the same level as the plugin for IE and the iOS app.

SSL handshake timings are now displayed in Firefox:

SSL Handshake Timing

and in-depth information about the SSL protocol used by each connection:

SSL Information

We’ve also made some other SSL related improvements that are available in the Firefox/IE plugins and the HttpWatch Studio log file viewer. The first is that SSL information can now be added as columns in the main request grid:

SSL Columns


There’s also a new warning that can be used to highlight HTTPS connections that have potential vulnerabilities:

SSL Warning

You can check SSL/TLS configuration our new SSL test tool SSLRobot . It will also look for potential issues with the certificates, ciphers and protocols used by your site. Try it now for free!


HttpWatch 8.3 Supports SPDY

calendarJune 5, 2012 in Firefox , HTTPS , HttpWatch

Mozilla Firefox 13 was released today and includes a significant performance related feature. By default, it now uses the SPDY protocol with any supporting web site.

The SPDY protocol was developed as part of Google’s ‘Lets make the web faster’ initiative to overcome these performance related problems in HTTP:

  1. Only a single HTTP request can be active on an HTTP connection at a given time. Although HTTP pipelining was intended to overcome this, it still uses a FIFO queue and it is not well supported by existing HTTP infrastructure.
  2. Headers in HTTP request and responses messages are never compressed.

Item 1) is particularly significant as the round trip time to the server has a large impact on the amount of throughput that can be achieved on an HTTP connection. The SPDY protocol overcomes these problems by adding a multiplexing and header compressing layer between SSL and HTTP:

There’s more information about SPDY in the white paper and specification.

Although, few companies currently use SPDY it is now enabled on all Google servers that use HTTPS. For example, if you access Gmail or a secure version of the Google search page with Google Chrome or Firefox 13+ you will be using SPDY.

This also applies to any web components served by Google over HTTPS. For example, if your secure site uses the Google Ajax libraries or Google Analytics these will be served with SPDY when possible.

When we updated HttpWatch with Firefox 13 support, we also added SPDY support because it will now be frequently used due to Google’s influence on the web.

The main difference you see in HttpWatch with SPDY is that it displays the SPDY stream ID on the Overview page:

The Stream tab now shows the raw SPDY request and response messages. The compressed headers appear as unreadable character sequences at the start of each message. The tab also shows how many SPDY data frames were used to send or receive the content:

There are also some new columns so that SPDY related data can be displayed in the main grid and exported to CSV files:

A full list of changes in version 8.3 is included in the version history.


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