Why Your SEO Performance Will Benefit From SSL Encryption
Take a look at the space just to the left of the URL at the top of this page. If you're using a major web browser, you'll see either a green or grey lock symbol, and in Chrome, the word "secure" next to it. That's because our website uses HTTPS. It may look like only a small change from the traditional HTTP, but there are quite a few benefits to using it. Most recently, it has been shown that using HTTPS instead will actually improve your SEO performance, and that now is a good time to make the switch.
HTTP vs. HTTPS
You're probably familiar with HTTP. Those letters have famously preceded most web addresses since the dawn of the internet. It stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It sounds complicated, but it's just a system for transmitting information across the web. In HTTP, the information between a user and a website is sent in plain-text. This means that anyone who knows how to intercept that information can read it very easily. This becomes a pretty big issue when a website stores personal information, like addresses or credit card numbers.
Enter HTTPS. HTTPS uses something called SSL, or Secure Socket Layer. This technology uses the same information transportation system as regular HTTP. The difference is that it encrypts the data that travels between the user and webpage. This keeps your personal data safe, and users can input personal information on a website without worrying it may end up in the wrong hands.
Google Wants a More Secure Web
It's no question that commerce websites need SSL certificates. But recently Google has made the call for "HTTPS everywhere". A few years ago, Google published a blog post about this. The article goes in depth about their commitment to the security of information online. It goes on to say that websites using HTTPS will be given more authority in Google's search engine results than websites that do not. Simply switching to HTTPS could help boost your rankings! Google has made it clear that they value online security greatly, and by using HTTPS as a ranking signal, it encourages all types of website owners to make the switch to something more secure. It's pretty rare for Google to be so direct about a ranking signal like this. For that reason alone, now is the time to get your website an SSL certificate.
But Wait, There's More
If that's not enough to convince you, there are a few other added benefits to SSL encryption.
One added bonus pertains to referral data. When traffic is sent to a website from another domain, in HTTP it often shows as "direct" traffic. This is usually meant to indicate that someone typed in a web address exactly. In HTTP, there is no way to distinguish referral traffic from direct traffic. In HTTPS, the information about the referring domain is retained, meaning you can differentiate between the two.
You also get the added benefit of increased security. Just because you aren't collecting credit card numbers on your website doesn't mean you should leave it unsecured. SSL protects your site from things like phishing scams, website cloning, and other types of damage from malicious third parties. Plus, users are more likely to trust a website with HTTPS. A study has indicated that 77% of internet users are worried about their information online being stolen. It also shows that nine out of ten users are more likely to trust a website that indicates security measures are being used. Being able to ensure to your users that their interaction with your site is protected can have a big impact on the way your website is perceived.
Making The Switch
The bottom line is that if Google is willing to directly state the importance of a feature like SSL, you can't ignore it. This is a ranking signal that is only going to grow in importance as time goes on. Stay in Google's good graces and show your users that you care about security, too; make the switch to HTTPS.
Questions about HTTPS and your search strategy? We're here to help.