website not secure 300x145 Improving Google search rank is an ongoing quest for webmasters and business owners. Higher ranking in SERPS means more impressions, more click-throughs and more potential for conversions.

Google’s algorithms are in a constant state of fluctuation, making it difficult to stay on top of the latest trends. The introduction of the “HTTPS Everywhere” concept in 2014 changed ranking signals yet again, making many people wonder if implementing security protocols is necessary to continue enjoying high visibility.

HTTPS and SSL: Security for Every Site

HTTPS stands for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure” and is the protected version of HTTP. Communication between users and servers over HTTPS connections is encrypted to prevent forging of or tampering with information and keep malicious third parties from eavesdropping on data transfer. Different ports are used than with HTTP to ensure data remains secure.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates are usually associated with e-commerce. Transport Layer Security (TLS) is a similar protocol. Both use an encryption key to scramble data at one end and prevent it from being stolen and read during transfer. Information can only be decoded when it reaches the intended recipient.

Should you be adopting HTTPS and Secure Socket Layer (SSL) for your website? According to Google, your search rank could depend on it.

Is HTTPS Necessary for Better Ranking?

Google has been using site security as a ranking signal since 2014 and plans to mark all HTTP pages as “non-secure” in the future. This is part of their commitment to provide security to all internet users.

In January 2017, the search giant took their plan a step further and started displaying the security of connections in the Chrome address bar on any page asking for passwords or credit card information. Pages requesting personal information via contact forms will soon be tagged in the same way to ensure:

  • Website authenticity
  • Data integrity
  • Encryption

Having an SSL certificate only on e-commerce pages isn’t enough to convince Google your site is secure. HTTPS must be implemented across the entire site.

Making Your Site Compliant

To bring your site into the era of HTTPS Everywhere, you must:

  • Purchase the proper type of security certificate for your domain
  • Allow search engines to crawl and index all pages
  • Implement any necessary redirects
  • Update internal links and sitemaps

It’s common for site rank to suffer a slight temporary drop when changing to the HTTPS protocol. Setting up the canonical with https in Google Search Console helps minimize that, as it is just like changing any link structure or adding a redirect. As long as all redirects and link changes are working, your site should regain its place in the SERPs once Google’s bots crawl and recognize the updated URLs.

As the world becomes more connected, data security continues to be a pressing concern. Google acknowledges this and is using HTTPS Everywhere to drive a universal switch from standard to secure protocols.

Adopting HTTPS and SSL doesn’t only help to increase your search rank. Consider the peace of mind of your customers and the integrity of the data you handle. Providing a secure connection is just as good for your reputation as it is for search engine visibility.

Generally there is a cost to purchase an SSL certificate through a 3rd party, but if you host with SunAnt, we can provide a free certificate. The certificate does need to be installed and your site needs to be configured to properly utilize the certificate and this does require some effort on our end.  Some sites require very little effort while others require more consideration. As such, each site requires a case-by-case evaluation. Call us at (262) 641-2613 to find out more about how SSL will improve your website.

See also The Hidden Costs of Economy Web Hosting Part 1: The SSL Debacle