SSL & Search Engine Optimization
The SSL abbreviation stands for “Secure Sockets Layer”, which is a global standard security measure taken to protect private usernames, bank card numbers, passwords and other sensitive information. It works by encrypting links between an online server and the client. But, what has this go to do with search engine optimization (SEO) for your website?
SEO is all about optimizing your website for performance in the search engines. If someone Googles a service provided by your business, you want to make sure you show up in the results as high in the ranks as possible.
There are many, many aspects to SEO and the factors which will influence the performance of your website in search. These aspects mainly revolve around the algorithms that search engines use, which are constantly revised and updated to keep the quality of search results high. That said, there are two ways in which SSL Certification can affect the search engine algorithms will rank your site: the Google SSL algorithm updates and user trust.
Google's SSL Algorithm
In August 2014, Google announced an algorithm change that would give preference to websites with SSL certification. Google’s intention with their algorithms is to rank by quality and relevance of results. Using SSL/HTTPS as a marker of quality, Google tried this on small scale and after positive results decided to roll this out completely. This means without SSL certification, you will lose out on some ranking power next to your competitors that do.
Visitors of your website both consciously and unconsciously take cues for from your website for signs of quality and reliability. These might be icons for accredited payment providers, 5-star reviews, image quality, grammar and partners. SSL certification adds to the perception of quality by adding the HTTPS padlock in the address bar of the browser and whilst SSL becomes more popular, users might begin to notice when it’s not there. The green padlock acts like an official stamp of quality. Furthermore, as of October 2017, Google’s browser Chrome will mark login/form/payment pages without SSL certification as “not secure” and other browsers are following suit.
Why does this affect your SEO if the user is already on your website?
It’s all in the numbers. Other signs of website quality that Google’s algorithms looks for include how long users spend on the website and interact with it. If your website looks untrustworthy, unfinished or less professional, user engagement drops, your aggregated "time-on-site" stats decrease and bounce rates increase. These low interaction rates stack up and signal to Google that this site probably doesn't have what people are looking for, eek!
So what’s the verdict?