Posted by: Kevin McNally
The SSL (Secure Socket Layer) prevents unauthorized access to data that travels between a website and a user’s computer. Usually this is used to encrypt sensitive personal information, like credit card details when you’re at the checkout of an online store. If it ever happens that a cybercriminal intercepts any data, they won’t be able to use or read the encrypted information when an SSL is used on the website.
You can tell when a website is utilizing an SSL when in the URL starts with HTTPS instead of HTTP. If you want to know, HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, and it provides a secure connection on the pages where users share personal data with a website.
It’s great to have SSL on your entire website, but especially on pages where you have users sharing precious information, as it adds an extra layer of protection. As more and more businesses move online, and with their processes of retrieving information for business transactions and such, it’s a high priority for users to feel like the information they put out there is safe, and feel that the business behind the website is doing all they can to keep it safe. This is first and foremost the reason any business owner should care about SSL.
Another reason to care is the notion that SSL certificates are affecting Google Search results. Back in 2014 Google announced changes to their algorithm for search engine rankings, which gave priority to sites that use SSL in a push to make the internet a safer place and to make sure the websites accessed through Google are secure. They stated that they will most likely strengthen this criteria in the future and encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS. In a Google blog post from 2016, we see that more website owners were switching over as they wrote that more than half of the pages loaded and two-thirds of the total time spent by Chrome desktop users occurred via HTTPS, and also said they expect this to continue increasing. Google also wrote that they will work to ensure moving from HTTPS is a no-brainer, providing a business benefit beyond increased security.
Security is a big deal to Google, and this notion will only become more important as time goes on. As they push the internet from HTTP to HTTPS, they continue to adjust their ranking algorithms, giving those websites who use SSL priority over those who don’t. This is where we can see that SSL is having an effect on search results. There are many factors involved in getting your website higher in the search results, and having an SSL certificate for your website is one of them.
Before I end here, I wanted to point out two challenges that may come with switching over from HTTP to HTTPS. The first is if you don’t get it right, you could end up with duplicate content issues, such as both HTTP and HTTPS versions of your page getting indexed, sometimes showing up in the search results and confusing users because there’s two different versions of the same page showing up. Google also penalizes a website’s search rankings if they have duplicate content, so this should not be taken lightly.
The second could be the challenge of cost, as some providers can be very spendy. Associated costs could add up even more if your website is really big. Don’t let these challenges keep you from making the switch. Finding the right provider and webmaster to do it right can make all the difference.
Let me follow up with this. Getting an SSL certificate and moving from HTTP to HTTPS is a good idea as it provides the security users are looking for and gets you in good running with Google, as Google wishes to see the whole world of websites move to HTTPS and makes adjustments to their algorithm to ensure this happens over time.
Don’t let your website fall behind the times as you stay with HTTP. Take the leap to a safer internet experience and move to HTTPS today. It will be of great benefit to both your users and your rank in the search results.