HTTPS

The Impact of SSL and HTTPS on a Website’s SEO

Latest posts by Joseph Schneider (see all)

In today’s time, maintaining the security of your website is one of the most important ways to boost SEO and conversions. This also comes after Google announced its intentions to build a more secure internet platform for users. To stay on top of Google’s list and rank high, marketers need to ensure that their site follows all Google-listed protocols. This especially includes securing their site.

In other words, marketers need to move their website from HTTP to HTTPS. The “S” in HTTPS signals to search engines like Google that a site is now secure for users to access. They can browse through and engage with the site. In technical terms, it means a website with a secure protocol can transfer data hassle free to-and-from an internet browser. This data is in an encrypted form, assuring a higher level of security to both the site and users.


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In terms of SEO, upgrading from HTTP to HTTPS can help a website:

  • Appear more legitimate to users enabling them to shop at ease.
  • Help search engine crawlers determine the site’s sanctity and signal the intent to offer a safer user experience.

HTTP vs. HTTPS in SEO

HTTPS
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Google first mentioned the importance of site security in SEO in 2014 at the I/O conference. It talked in-depth about its “HTTPS everywhere” plan. It also gave away many pointers to marketers.

Later in the year, Google added HTTPS protocol and security as one of the key ranking benchmarks. This means Google’s search engine algorithms will consider sites with HTTPS labels over HTTP and rank them higher on search engine result pages (SERP). Additionally, they also identify and notify non-secure websites to take necessary security measures. The more secure a website, the more weight it gets in the eyes of Google.

But, what’s the difference between an HTTP and HTTPS website in SEO?

HTTPS or hyper-text transfer protocol is a structure that transfers information from a user’s device to a website’s server and vice versa. HTTPS or hyper-text transfer protocol security performs the same function as HTTP, but it uses an extra layer of security while performing the task.

This security blanket is known as the secure socket layer or SSL. The SSL security measure encrypts information being transmitted to and from web users to prevent cyber breaches.

So, what’s the importance of SSL/HTTPS in SEO? Let’s take a look!

Importance of SSL/HTTPS in SEO

  1. Provides a security blanket to a website.

Sites with the HTTPS security badge have higher chances of offering users a better and safer browsing experience especially for e-commerce websites. The primary idea behind adding an SSL certificate is to encrypt the transmission of data. This data includes sensitive user information such as passwords, logins, account details, etc.

Only websites and users will have the personal key to decrypt and read the data.  Encryption prevents cyber hackers from tampering with the essential site and user data.

  1. Improves ranking on Google’s search pages.

Take a closer look, and you’ll notice that almost all the top search results have HTTPS. This is because, as Google announced, it favors websites with SSL badges on them. The reason being, the safer a website for a visitor to browse, the more weight it will carry on Google’s SERP. If your competitors have a secure site and you don’t, sooner or later, they will outrank you on search results.

  1. Build AMP-optimized platforms.

Have you ever noticed a thunder-like or lightning bolt symbol on search engine results page? That symbol depicts your website, or that specific page is AMP-optimized. AMP is an open-source HTML framework developed to optimize your web/app. It helps site pages load faster, reduce bounce rate, make the platform(s) user friendly and enhance SEO. But, to enable AMP on your site, it’s necessary to have an SSL certificate.

  1. Build trust and authority.

Cybercrime is increasing at a steady pace. It is important to analyze whether a website’s connection is secure or not. No user should make a transaction from an unsecured website.

To ensure that site visitors consider your brand authentic and instill their trust, add a layer of security with an SSL certificate. The safer your site, the higher will be visitor engagement rate. This also means a higher conversion rate.

  1. Click-through rate & conversions.

When visitors identify an unsecured website, they should be hesitant to interact with it. Doing business is certainly out of question. The reason is simple: The presence of competitive brands with secure networks. Though many argue that this is a good way to increase the impression rate, the number of clicks will reduce significantly. This means poor click-through rate. A secure website, on the other hand, will witness a higher click-through rate and conversion rate for obvious reasons.

Switching from HTTP to HTTPS for SEO

Many SEO experts suggest that, in general, there are no real concerns behind moving from HTTP to HTTPS. However, ever since Google  made it one of its key ranking benchmarks, it is more than a mandate for optimizers to follow it for user security and optimization purposes.

To move in the right direction, it’s important to do a couple of things to ensure your site’s traffic doesn’t suffer when you make the switch. To start with, tell Google that you’re moving your website from HTTP to HTTPS.

Here are some Google-advised steps to follow to switch from HTTP to HTTPS:

  • Use the 2048-bit key certificates.
  • Decide whether to opt for a single, wildcard, or multi-domain SSL certificate.
  • Use relative URLs from resources that make use of similar domains.
  • Ensure your HTTPS site gets crawled by robots.txt.
  • Index all the pages in search engines wherever possible.
  • Avoid using any no-index meta tags for robots.txt.
  • Use the right analytical tools and Google search console to track HTTP to HTTPS migration.

To get the certificate, submit a certificate signing request (CSR) on the webserver. Then, select a server software to generate the CRS. After that, choose the preferred hash algorithm. Lastly, select the validity period of the certificate, and you’re done.

Conclusion

When you migrate from HTTP to HTTPS, you signal to Google that you have taken the first step toward providing a secure visitor experience. This is enough for Google to give you an edge. With additional SEO tactics, you can further boost the ranking of your site and sit up high on SERP.

If you own a website that’s already HTTPS-enabled, now is the time to concentrate on other search engine optimization tactics and enhance the ranking of your website. But, before you move ahead, it’s also a good idea to run tests and check your website’s security level and its configuration with Google’s Qualys Lab tool. The more assured you are of your actions, the more are the chances of success.


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