Will Owning an SSL Certificate Give Your Rankings a Boost?
In 2014, Google introduced their HTTPS Everywhere initiative. In an attempt to encourage webmasters to get SSL certificates for their sites and raise awareness of online security issues, Google introduced HTTPS as a lightweight search signal. This idea became more important for every webmaster out there in the years to come.
The main idea was to ensure maximum privacy and secure server connections for online users, making the Internet a safer place for everyone. However, HTTPS pages will be shown to users by default and have an actual boost in search. Does SSL really give SEO rankings a boost? As a good online experience involves a good encryption and a trusted third party, the answer is yes (but one should realize that the boost is still pretty slight).
What is SSL?
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is a standard encryption technology used for transferring data from a browser to the web server. SSL encryption prevents hackers from intercepting and misusing sensitive data that users’ leave on websites (via contact or registration forms and checkout pages). SSL functions use public and private encryption keys. Public ones are used to scramble the information, and private ones to decrypt the information so that it can be read. A secure transfer via an SSL certificate is marked with https:// in the address bar. When a user visits an https:// web page, their communications, transactions, and data are safe from sniffing or skimming. E-commerce websites and companies that collect personal data find this particularly important because their corporate credibility depends on the use of SSL certificates.
Advantages of switching to HTTPS
The benefit of security is obvious, but does owning an SSL certificate provide other benefits? The additional SEO benefits of SSL for you to consider are:
1. Increased rankings
Google has confirmed that HTTPS sites get a slight boost in ranking. This is something to keep in mind, even though it’s hard to isolate it like most ranking signals. The value of having an SSL certificate is likely to increase over time. Google prefers websites that are certified and trusted because users can be guaranteed that extra layer of security. Users who know the difference between HTTP and HTTPS can make secure purchases without worrying, which gives extra credibility to eCommerce businesses.
2. Privacy and security
HTTPS adds security to your website and SEO goals in several ways. It makes your website more secure for visitors, prevents tampering by third parties, verifies that the site is the on the server it’s supposed to be communicating with, and encrypts all communication (protecting things such as credit card numbers and browsing history).
October 2017: Chrome starts labeling HTTP sites as “not secure”
Chrome will start labeling all HTTP sites as non-secure, changing the security indicator to the red triangle that’s used for all HTTP pages in incognito mode and for broken HTTPS when users enter text into a form. The new security warning for marking all pages served through HTTP will be “not secure”, and when users find themselves on a site with that indicator, they’re not likely to stick around.
Key things to consider when getting an SSL certificate
The way your clients perceive your company can largely be shaped by having an SSL certificate. However, as they come in different forms, there are certain things you need to consider before deciding on the right one.
- Which type of certificate do you need? Decide whether you should use single, multi-domain, or wildcard SSL certificate.
- Use certificates issued by a trusted Certificate Authority. These authorities aim to verify the website as a trusted resource and protect visitors from potential middle-man attacks and are associated with legal regulations.
- Choose a web server that supports HSTS – HTTP Strict Transport Security
- Use 301 redirects to point both search engines and users to the HTTPS pages.
- Choose the right domain name, because an SSL certificate is associated with one or more hostnames. An SSL certificate is valid only if the request matches the hostname associated with the certificate. This is why it’s important to choose an SEO-friendly domain name, and know that it’s not possible to change the name type of a certificate (for example, switch from a wildcard-name to a single-name) once it has been issued.
- Test your website pages by using an SSL certificate checker tool.
If you want to stay in Google’s good graces, then switching to HTTPS will definitely help you with that. HTTPS is a far more superior system, when it comes to security, for your site to operate. Along with all the SEO benefits, such as building consumer trust, retaining them on your website, and instilling confidence to make purchases on your site, security is the most important aspect of switching to HTTPS that affects your overall corporate credibility.