SSL certificate and SEO are two subjects that have attracted lots of discussion among web administrators and digital marketers. But do SSL certificates have any impact on SEO? Which type of certificate is the best for your SEO needs? This article will give you a precise explanation that seeks to answer these questions. But first, let us look at the two concepts of SSL certificates and SEO separately.
One of the biggest challenges facing the internet is data breaches. According to the 2022 Thales Data Breach Threat Report, 52% of organizations worldwide have reported falling victim to data breaches. Indeed, data is a most-sought resource in the modern day and era that cybercriminals are willing to do anything to lay their hands on it.
To counter the many data breaches that occur, security experts have developed mechanisms that safeguard networks from attacks. One of the most impactful cybersecurity tools that help to mitigate the menace of data breaches we see today is the Secure Socket Layer certificate. Most know it with its abbreviation- SSL certificate. The term Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificate could also be used in place of SSL.
An SSL certificate is a small cryptographic tool that creates an additional security layer that protects all sensitive data and information people share via websites. You might have noticed that whereas some websites have their URLs starting with HTTP, some start with HTTPS. What exactly is the difference? It would be easy to notice that the only difference between the two is the S at the end of HTTPS. The S stands for secure. It is the SSL certificate that gives a website HTTPS status. With SSL, all communications between your web servers and your users’ browsers will be encrypted. Encryption converts text data into ciphertext (an undecipherable format), which can only be deciphered once decrypted. To improve your web security, you will need to buy and install a new SSL certificate.
But why should a security protocol such as SSL certificates have anything to do with SEO? To answer this question, we should first understand what SEO means.
Search engine optimization refers to all the strategies, tools, and measures taken to increase the visibility of a website in search engines. The better the visibility of your website pages in search engines, the better you are positioned to attract prospects and leads to your website. According to BrightEdge research, 68% of online experiences start with search engine optimization. The 2021 HubSpot state of marketing report shows that SEO generates more traffic and leads than any other digital marketing strategy.
Search engines use hundreds of ranking factors to rank web pages in the SERPS. And this is where the SSL certificate comes into play. As it occurs, Google and other search engines use the SSL certificate as one of the factors when ranking websites.
On 6th August 2014, Google announced that HTTPS would be used as one of its ranking factors. The announcement came as a big surprise to many within the Search Engine Marketing industry. But the move was to encourage website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS in the quest to make the internet a safe haven.
Weeks after Google made the announcement, several questions were posed relating to the same issue and how the algorithm would work. Google’s John Muller provided some excellent insights on how the algorithm would work. It then became clear that the algorithm would work at the URL level. As such, rather than having to crawl through the website in its entirety, the algorithm would consider the HTTPS factor. The algorithm would also run in real-time and operate independently. It means that users will see the benefits of HTTP to HTTPS migration almost immediately after making the migration.
In a nutshell, if you are trying to rank higher than your competitors in the search engine results pages, then you should consider switching to HTTPS. You get a share of low-hanging SEO fruits by buying and installing the SSL certificate.
To add more weight to the issue of SSL and SEO, Google further announced that the HTTPS factor would be used to break the tie in a situation where two or more websites had equaled in all the other ranking factors. So, if two or more websites had tied in rank, but one website has an SSL certificate installed, the website with the SSL certificate will outrank those without the certificate.
Ever since Google made these announcements, HTTPS websites have been dominating the top search engine results pages. You can experiment by searching anything on Google. You will notice that all the top pages in the SERPS have their URLs starting with HTTPS.
The SSL certificate plays a very critical role in improving the user experience. Website users have become clever and learned how to differentiate safe from unsafe websites. If a website visitor lands on a website, the first thing they do is to check some of the visual indicators to confirm the security of a website. If the website visitor has any reason to doubt the security of the website, they will leave immediately.
The logic here is that websites that offer user experiences can never rank high in the SERPS. Google notices high bounce rates that occur as a result of security doubts by website visitors. If this is the case, Google will demote your website in its SERPs. And the website might even go further at the bottom of the SERPs due to the domino effects.
According to an analysis of 1 Million websites conducted by SEMrush, Ahrefs, Brian Dean, MarketMuse, and SimilarWeb, it was discovered that there is a moderate correlation between HTTPS and high rankings in the Search engine results pages.
The primary purpose of SSL certificates is to ensure website security between website servers and web browsers. All websites, Domain Validated, Extended Validated, or Organization Validated, provide the same level of encryption and give websites the HTTPS status. To rank websites, Google looks at the HTTPS factor and not the type of SSL certificate that has initiated HTTPS. In a nutshell, all types of SSL certificates are good for SEO.
So, when you need an SSL certificate, you should look beyond the SEO factor. For instance, you might consider going for a low-priced Comodo SSL certificate or RapidSSL certificate to receive other benefits such as an Unlimited re-issuance policy and a 30-day refund policy, among others.
Cybersecurity and search engine optimization are two subjects that are very vital for every website. The SSL certificate is at the center of the two issues. Apart from enhancing web security through encryption, the certificate also helps with SEO visibility. This article has explained what an SSL certificate is, what SEO is, and why the certificate is essential in SEO.
After the Snowden revelations, the amount of websites that have become encrypted has doubled. There is still a long way to go before the entire web is encrypted, but the number of websites that use encryption might increase further as a result of Google favoring websites that are encrypted. Currently, whether the content is secured is a lightweight signal when compared to other signals, such as whether the website has high-quality content. It only affects 1% of search queries. However, this is likely to become a more important signal in the future.
Websites that use the HTTPS prefix are much more likely to receive a higher ranking from Google. This is because the HTTPS prefix is more secure than the HTTP prefix. Google has told webmasters for years that it is safe to switch from HTTP to HTTPS and to add an SSL certificate to your website. It is very rare that Google will specifically state that an aspect of a website is a signal, but Google has been explicit about this signal because they have been trying to improve the security of the Internet for years.
When adding a certificate to your website, you will need to determine whether you need a single, multi-domain or wildcard certificate. The single certificate is ideal for small business owners and bloggers. Multi-domain SSL is ideal for businesses that must own multiple domains. A wildcard SSL is ideal for if you will have a very large domain and are concerned with securing subdomains.
An SSL certificate is needed because SSL is used to secure data transfers for actions such as credit card transactions. Your website will not encrypt the website itself, but will instead encrypt the data that is sent by your website. An SSL certificate is the most reliable way to show your customers that their data will be secure. Visual trust indicators make it easy for visitors to know that the website is safe.
You will want to use 2048-bit key certificates. Use relative URLs for the resources that are found on the same domain. Then, a protocol relative URL should be used for everything else. Also, do not forget to make sure that your HTTPS website is not blocking bots from crawling your website.
Since you will be moving your website from an HTTP to HTTPS prefix, you will need to properly remove your website to avoid being penalized for duplicate content. You will want to prepare the new site and test it properly. Then, you will want to prepare URL mapping from the current URLs to their new format. Next, configure the server to redirect from the old URL to the new HTTPS one.
Making your content more secure by moderating spam can secure your content and improve your search engine results. This can be automated to a large extent through various plugins. Another approach is to disable links entirely. Also, consider disabling anonymous posting and requiring that visitors enter CAPTCHAs before they post to prevent spambots from posting.
Also, make sure to have your website regularly scanned for malware. When Google discovers that your website has become infected, it will include the message “this website may be hacked” in your search engine results and will also penalize your website until this is corrected.
To make sure that your websites are encrypted, the best approach is to use the service of companies such as Blue Coat Systems or even Symantec. You will need to safeguard your business from many angles and this will best be handled by experts. Given that these changes can be made relatively quickly, Blue Coat or other companies are a great way to give your website a quick boost in its search engine rankings.