Do SSL Certificates Help Boost SEO Rankings?

There are two types of marketers.

Those who get stuck into the technical stuff, and those who don’t.

If you fall into the first category, then you will already understand HTTPS.

However, those in the second category may find it rather intimidating.

It’s honestly not as techy as it sounds and can greatly improve your rankings!

You don’t have to understand the exact science behind HTTP vs HTTPS. What you do need to understand is that making the switch is essential.

So, let’s start with a simple definition…

What is HTTPS? Why is it so important?

It has long been known that security is at the top of Google’s checklist. Not too long ago, Google announced that HTTPS is a ranking factor.

Don’t know the difference between HTTP and HTTPS? You’ll either see http:// or https:// at the start of your website URL. That cheeky little ‘s’ makes all the difference. It stands for Hypertext Transport Protocol Security, which means that your site is protected through authentication and encryption. When installed into the web server, an SSL certificate activates the padlock and HTTPS protocol and allows for secure connections to be made from a browser to the web server.

If your site isn’t HTTPS, it will be branded ‘Not Secure’ and potential customers will get warnings about the security of your site on certain pages.

SSL Certificate needed for a not secure site.

Your customers take a leap of faith when shopping with you. Lose that trust and you lose their custom. It’s as simple as that. Having an SSL certificate will add another layer of security to your site. It gives visitors the reassurance they need to make a purchase.

Is SSL for SEO essential?

Sites and security go way back, but keep reading for more details.

More than just content can have a positive impact on your rankings, traffic and, eventually, conversions.

Rankings:

Back in 2014, Google rolled out an algorithm update in favour of HTTPS websites. This was but a blip in the ocean when compared to more critical ranking factors at the time like link building and content optimisation. Websites only experienced a minor uplift in rankings. However, Google did give a nod to more significant changes made in the future.

In 2015, Google stated that HTTPS would be a deciding ranking factor if two sites were otherwise considered equal. In other words, if your site was equal to your competitors in terms of site speed, links, content optimisation, title tags, etc. but your site was HTTPS and your competitor wasn’t, Google would rank yours higher.

So, how do things look like today? While only 1% of sites are secure, (talk about keeping up with the competition!) over 40% of search results on the first page have an SSL certificate. Google has been encouraging webmasters to make the change for some time now and has been giving a significant rankings boost to those who follow suit.

Remember, those ranking on page one are likely to know every last algorithm released. They follow Google’s guidelines with military precision, so it’s hardly surprising they retain their place in the search results. Making the switch to HTTPS may be exactly what our site needs to outrank the competition.

Traffic:

Better rankings will result in more traffic to your site. When potential customers are choosing which site to click on in the search results, they may see a secure site as a signal of trust and authority leading to a much higher click-through-rate. It comes full circle, because the more popular your site is, the better your rankings. Google likes to see that people are engaging with your site. If they are, you may be rewarded with a rankings boost.

Conversions:

Did you know, 84% of users would abandon their carts if they thought their data wasn’t secure? It’s hardly surprising. If a customer walks into your store with a complaint, you will do everything in your power to reassure them and make sure they leave with a smile on their face. It shouldn’t be any different online – where a huge percent of customers shop and search for your services. Ensure your customers feel safe and secure, and leave ready to leave you a glowing Google review.

Give your site the security it needs with an SSL certificate!

So, while at this current moment not having SSL for SEO isn’t going to bring your business to a crashing halt (it won’t break your site or harm your rankings), it’s certainly heading that way. Google’s webmaster blog hints at a fully secure future: “As migrating to HTTPS becomes even easier, we’ll continue working towards a web that’s secure by default.”

Stay one step ahead of the game with a secure site that Google loves. Nobody knows when the next core algorithm update will hit or what destruction it will cause for companies online. If you keep updated, don’t fall behind, there’s less chance of falling victim.

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Our team of experienced digital marketers are well versed in every past algorithm update and what’s essential currently. Every ecommerce website design project we undertake starts with security and ends with a sale. Here are the primary security considerations for anyone running an ecommerce business:

  • Using SSL to build customer trust and please Google! As established, having an SSL certificate is a pretty big deal.
  • Select a secure CMS platform. Do your research before making a selection. We recommend using WordPress as it is built with security in mind, is simple to use and is search engine friendly.
  • Encourage strong password use. If customer data gets hacked, they are not going to care about the lack of oversight that may have led to the problem. All they want is their money back. It may seem unfair, but unless you are going to fork out for refunds, this step is essential. Set up strict password guidelines, such as special characters, capital letters and longer passwords.

If you are looking for more advice on the security of your website, or would like a professional to talk you through the migration process, we’d be happy to help. Drop us a call on 01226 720 755 or send your questions to enquiries@bigfootdigital.co.uk.