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Good for Google. I don’t think this is going to have a major impact search ranking at this point, although it will have some. According to a post on Google’s blog, “For now it’s only a very lightweight signal. But over time we may decide to strengthen it.” Still, it’s a competitive world, so it’s a clear incentive for websites to implement HTTPS.
I think this is a positive step by the company, and as dsavage points out, it benefits the consumer. With increasingly ubiquitous public WiFi, there is a greater need for HTTPS to reduce the risk of “man in the middle” attacks. With HTTPS, the traffic is encrypted, so it is significantly harder to snag sensitive personal/financial data. There is a legitimate question whether HTTPS is needed for all sites, especially smaller sites that can’t really afford the additional expense, but I personally would like for it to become the standard.
Companies will do whatever it takes to get on page1... if G-plex changed their algorithm so that blink text gave them one ranking higher, every website out there would be sending people into epileptic fits. Companies will always do what is in their best interests. Always. (It's just that this time, it's also in the consumer's best interest.)