SSL Certificates and the Effects on SEO

With the ever-increasing need for digital security especially on internet searches, many of today’s businesses and organizations with a strong internet presence are integrating SSL certificates into their platforms to boost security while at the same time improve their search rankings.

Unfortunately, the number of websites not using SSL certificates as well as other online security enhancements far outnumber those that do. This is despite the rollout of free standard SSL certificate on every site emerging from HubSpot’s platform. In fact, in a 2014 report by Moz, only 1.9 percent of the world’s top 1 million websites use secure digital certificates as default. In the same report, among the Top 10,000 websites of the world, only 420 websites or 4.2 percent used HTTPS by default. In 2015, the number grew to 600 out of 10,000 websites and 28,000 out of 1 million websites. While this may be considered as a significant change, the mere addition of 180 top 10,000 websites using HTTPS in a span of 1 year is lukewarm to say the least.

Nevertheless, the trend shows an increasing acceptance of increased digital security as a cornerstone of effective digital presence.

Implications of SSL on Search Engine Optimization

In the 2014 update of Google on its search engine ranking algorithm, one of the most significant change was the inclusion of CCL certificate of HTTPS as a major parameter for organic search rankings. HTTPS is the more secure version of the standard HTTP.  This guarantees you security especially when sharing or transmitting highly sensitive personal and financial information over the internet. With a great majority of commercial activities now occurring online, consumers need to be protected against scammers as well as hackers who may gain access into these vital information which can lead to significant economic losses. Having an HTTPS in the URL simply means that the website has an SSL (secure sockets layer) security encryption which allows the transmission of data over a secure channel between the browser and the server.

If your website has an SSL certificate, it gives your visitors the peace of mind that their sensitive personal information will be safeguarded. It also validates your website as an online place that is verified and can be trusted. This is very important for online retailers who may require financial information from their customers to show that they can be trusted to handle such information with absolute discretion. This increases their credibility and hence, their rankings.

Unfortunately, websites that see no need for the transfer or exchange of personal information hardly find any utility for SSL certificates; until the Google update that placed some degree of importance on the presence of SSL certificates on websites as a major ranking factor, of course. By this time, webmasters are pondering on installing SSL certificates on their respective websites.

But before you do, try to examine the following first.

Benefits of Having an SSL Certificate

The following are the advantages of installing an SSL certificate in your website.

  • Boost rankings in search engines – While the actual boost in rankings is quite difficult to measure, understanding that HTTPS has become a major criteria in the ranking algorithm of Google simply implies that websites with SSL certificates should rank a lot better and higher than those who do not have HTTPS. Besides, with the integration of social media sites, email messaging platforms, and eCommerce platforms, it is quite difficult to see a ranking system that will not factor in digital security features.
  • Better understanding of referrer data – One of the major issues of digital marketers analyzing referral traffic is if the recipient website has HTTP and traffic was generated from a website with an SSL certificate, the traffic is automatically classified as If, however, you have an HTTPS website and traffic was referred to you by another HTTPS website, this is aptly flagged as referred.
  • Enhanced digital security – SSL certificates make sure that the data transmitted between your website and the server is free from threats or attacks by men-in-the-middle. All communication is fully encrypted and makes sure that the servers it is communicating to is verified to be trustworthy and secure as well. The net effect is that you will project an image of trustworthiness and credibility.

Organizations involved in B2C and B2B transactions can fully benefit from SSL integration. It provides an excellent point for building trust and credibility.

Downsides to an SSL-Enabled Website

Unfortunately, there are also a few downsides to the installation of an SSL certificate on a website. These can include the following:

  • May affect overall webpage performance especially in page loading times. This is necessary because the SSL certificate will have to verify first the server to which it is trying to connect to. And it usually takes time.
  • Unfortunately, because there are still significantly greater numbers of products that run on unsecured platforms, many simply will not support HTTPS migration. Not yet, anyway.
  • SSL certificates can cost around $100 to $200 per certificate per year. However, there are also cheaper alternatives like Namecheap’s $9 per year SSL. HubSpot offers them free if you let them host your website.

Optimizing Security for SEO

Obviously, SSL certificates will benefit more those who are actively engage in ecommerce or with a substantial base of followers as the security features will further help cement your image as a trustworthy and highly credible website owner. If you have a small blog just looking to improve traffic, you may want to expand first on your base of followers because the monetary investment may not be appropriate at this time.

Nevertheless, here’s what you can do to minimize the issues that are often seen when switching to HTTPS:

  • The HTTPS version of your URL must be fully registered with the Webmaster Tools of Google and Bing.
  • All website elements must have HTTPS including your CDN, widgets, and even images.
  • All canonical tags should point to your URL’s HTTPS version.
  • To redirect HTTP sites to HTTPS, use 301 redirects.
  • Keep your robots.txt file duly updated.
  • Keep your sitemaps updated to reflect HTTPS URLs.

Eventually every single website will have to be fully secured. Whether you are going to install SSL certificates now or wait for a little more time is actually dependent on the overall aim of your digital marketing efforts.

Related Articles

10 SEO Mistakes That Must Be Avoided When Blogging
5 Tips to Help You Improve Your Page Speed
Common Misconceptions about SEO
Do I Really Need to Hire an SEO Expert?
How to Choose the Right SEO Company?
How to Optimize Images for SEO?
How to Track Your SEO Success?
How to recognize shady Toronto SEO Services?
SSL Certificates and the Effects on SEO
The Importance of Citations in Local SEO
10 SEO Mistakes That Must Be Avoided When Blogging
5 Tips to Help You Improve Your Page Speed
How To Blog Effectively For SEO?
Should I Buy Multiple Domain Extensions for SEO?
What Is On Page SEO?
Using Google for Business Reviews
How SEO Can Help Your Business?
How to recover from a Google Penalty?
9 Changes Google Has Made in 2016
Should You Get Involved With Black-Hat SEO?
How Black Hat-SEO Can Get Your Site De-Indexed?
What to expect from an SEO Company?