In August of 2014, Google announced that they want websites to be more secure and, to encourage this, they decided to give preferential treatment to websites that meet their expectations. Whether or not your website uses sensitive information like credit cards or Social Security Numbers, Google has said that if your website meets their security standards, they’ll give you higher search rankings.
What Google means by being “secure” is that the website has a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and a web address that starts with https://www.yourdomain.com (in lieu of http://www.yourdomain.com, where the difference is the “S”).
In order to have HTTPS, a website has to have an SSL installed. An SSL is a special certificate issued by a security company that has verified that you are who you say you are and your website is what it says it is.
To our knowledge, Google does not have a financial interest in selling SSL; they just want every website to have it. To further the point, Google indicated that they will use HTTPS as a ranking signal. It is still consider lightweight; however, they have implied that it will carry more weight in search results going forward. Furthermore, I cannot recall Google ever pointing directly at a ranking signal. They are usually are more secretive about the 100’s of signals their search algorithm uses.
Since the announcement last year there have been dozens of studies to determine if websites gained visibility as a result of their transition to more security. The answer is YES…or probably. Most studies have indicated an increase of 3-5% after they added the security and, in most cases, that can be considered significant. However, it is impossible to rule out other factors that may or may not have impacted the site and triggered the increased visibility.
The most powerful indicator that taking this step is worth the effort is that there are rumblings of free SSL offerings from Google and Mozilla. We will take a wait-and-see approach for the free option.
Conclusion: We added an SSL to our website in response to Googles announcement, and we are recommending it to all of our clients. A safe Internet is a better Internet.
This guest blog post was submitted by Joe Lemire, Chief Innovator at ELYK Innovation a Jacksonville based Web Development business that focuses on internet strategy for business. www.elykinnovation.com