Google considers more than 200 factors before ranking any website in search engine result pages (SERPs).
This information is carefully protected by Google to avoid search engine manipulation and to evade overtaking of search rankings unfairly.
To cut a long story short, Google hardly gives accurate and precise statements about what to do to increase your search rankings. Rather, it gives+ quite a blurry image to show you for ranking tips. Like, produce quality content, or get powerful links, are one of those Google statements that seem quite generic and unclear.
However, Google particularly has declared the SSL certification (HTTPS://) as an add-on that additionally can help the site to get a better rank in searches.
In essence, Google notified that if two sites are similar and equal in everything, then the preference would be given to the site that possesses the SSL certificate.
The reason for this preference is the protection of privacy that Google itself prioritizes. The announcement of having this advanced and secured connection as an advantage in ranking came from Google taking a strong stance for data security.
Ever since this particular statement has been announced, it has led the marketing world into a mad race of knowing everything about SSL certificates and moving the sites from unencrypted to secured sites (HTTPS://).
But still, experts don’t know how Google SEO, in actuality, works and are confused about the worth of SSL certificates in search rankings.
This blog post will help you understand what SSL certification is, how its algorithm works in search rankings and what its influences are on SEO rankings thoroughly. So, let’s first start with what SSL certification is.
SSL represents Secure Socket Layer shortly, which creates a layer of protection around the information that your site visitors choose to share during the exploration.
According to SSL.com
“SSL defines standard security that creates an encrypted link to protect data. It ensures that the link safeguards all the information that is shared between the web server and a browser while exploring any site.”
This encrypted tie-up will help information to remain protected and private without any fear of getting leaked or out. It gives a privacy surety and creates trust in visitors.
How does its algorithm work?
Whenever a user explores a site and shares personal details like credit card information, the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) provides a protection layer for this data security.
All you need to do is to download SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate, protection that HTTPS uses, to secure your data shared between your server and Browser.
When you install this certificate, it will attach your domain name or server with the company’s name as well as location. In this way, your data becomes will-protected with the in-depth private and public keys of the SSL algorithm. Even if a hacker attempts to attack, he will not find the private key to crack it.
Now the question is, how will you know that you have successfully installed an SSL certificate? To ensure this, when you install this certificate and configure it on your server, Chrome will show you the green light (HTTPS:/)
That is why this SSL certificate serves as a tie-breaker whenever there comes a comparison between two similar or equal sites and helps in boosting search rankings.
Effects of SSL certificate on Search Rankings
Now that you have gotten the idea about what is an SSL certificate and how it works let’s move to its effects straightaway.
SSL certificate affects the website search ranking in multiple ways, and some of them we are going to discuss below.
1. Uplift in search rankings
At the very start of this blog post, it is already mentioned that Google will give an advantage to the website with an SSL certificate over the one that is unencrypted and unsecured.
Précising the SSL influences on website search ranking is that not much easy, especially in the cases when there is a comparison between a website with a secured connection (SSL certification) and a website with more than thousands of backlinks.
In that case, maybe the website with thousands of backlinks will get more advantages despite the disadvantage of not having an SSL certificate.
That is the reason why the website holders need to get the point that having just SSL certification will not help you boost your search ranking. Rather, it will serve as an add-on to propel your site ranking when you already got all the right, needed, and supportive factors of search engine rankings in this competitive domain.
You can find many examples in which SSL certificate has helped in boosting the website search ranking, and Cloudtec is one of them. This site experienced a thrust in its search engine ranking as it moved its site to SSL certified (HTTPS://) from HTTP://.
It indicated that either directly or indirectly, an SSL certificate influences the website search ranking by improving the very bottom line.
2. Improve User Experience
As an SSL certificate provides a safe and secure connection between the server and the Browser, this privacy protection improves the user experience.
Whenever a person explores any unsecured website, he starts seeing the warnings from Google that the site is not protected and you should better quit exploring it immediately.
One reason why Google degrades these unencrypted sites is to increase awareness among the general and unaware public about internet security. And you can see that many people now avoid exploring these unsecured websites after getting this information.
Now, it is even more difficult for the websites to acquire the personal data of people and servers if the site does not have an SSL certificate.
The fact of the matter is that a website that offers a poor experience to users can’t rank at the top consistently in search engine results pages. These unprotected websites fail to provide a good user experience, and Google considers this before ranking any site.
Let’s take an example that if a user quits a site immediately as he sees the warnings of insecurity, it will be considered as a poor user experience. And if many users do the same, then Google will not consider your website worthy of being ranked in top SERPs and will downgrade it accordingly.
It shows that if your website is not SSL certified and this disadvantage will lead your site to degradation in search ranking results. Because the fewer the visitors are, the fewer opportunities will be to be ranked on top.
Challenges that may prevent you from moving to HTTPS
Now that you are aware of all the benefits of having SSL certificates, you might come across challenges that can stop you from moving to secured encryption, especially if you are a small business or startup.
- You may buy SSL certificates free of cost, but buying this certificate from some providers that offer certificates with the latest developments can cost you a lot.
For Example: Buying an SSL certificate from a Symantec provider can cost you $1499 per year.
Small businesses and startups cannot afford such high costs for getting secured encryption as their budget is limited to spend off.
- You may also face the issue of duplication in content in either the HTTP or HTTPS version of your website page. Duplication is one of the top 5 issues that websites face for search engine optimization (SEO).
- Google has now turned to index the page versions. If Google has to pick one between two URLs, HTTP, and HTTPS, which are duplicates of each other, then it will prefer the one whose inbound URLs would be pointing out to HTTPS version.
How to move to HTTPS?
1. Buy a suitable SSL certificate
When you go to buy a relevant certificate, you will find a variety in that, enough to make you confused. If you want to purchase one that fits your website purpose, too, then here are some tips for you.
There are three varieties of SSL certificates for different markets.
- Extended Validation: For eCommerce, sites that collect personal information and for sites where trust is of prime importance.
- Organization Validation: For eCommerce and sites that store up personal data
- Domain Validation: For non-eCommerce sites, Testing sites, and internal sites.
The most affordable certificate is Domain validation that gets issue immediately. However, I recommend whichever certificate you intend to buy, try to buy it from your web hosting provider as it will help you install it free and automatically.
2. Update Links and Set 301 redirect
For switching to HTTPS, you need to update all URLs in your site as well as in the database either manually or by using any tool.
You can’t skip a link or metadata, so try using a tool to assist you in this task. Don’t forget to create a backup to make your database safe in case of any error.
You also need to update all the scripts to avoid any content warning ahead. Then, set up 301 redirects to switch the version of your website, and it’s better that you perform these changes on a server level.
3. Update your HTTPS site version everywhere
In case of any setup blocking guidelines in the robots.txt, you need to update all the HTTP directories. Afterward, install the SSL certificate on your CDN but before doing this, try to ensure that your CDN supports the HTTPS site version.
Next, after updating all the links, now update your site address too by using Google Analytics.
In addition, you have to migrate all your social share counters too.
4. Recheck everything
Even after performing the above steps, if you still face a ranking drop, then I recommend you to go and concern your web host or hire an SEO consultant.
Switching your website from HTTP to HTTPS can be helpful, but there are some other factors too to consider. If you have got the budget and you can easily afford to buy an SSL certificate, then go for it as it builds trust, secures data, and helps in boosting search ranking.