Google is penalizing unsecured websites by telling the website visitors that the site is not secure.
Google Chrome, being the biggest player amongst web browsers as of September of 2019 is informing visitors to certain websites that the site they are visiting is unsecured. This could make visitors to the site nervous, and make them consider alternative websites in the search result page. This, in turn, makes business owners and marketers worry about the type of experience potential customers have with their website and the overall impact this has on their search engine optimization.
This post should give you more clarity on the SEO impacts of an SSL certificate on your website.
What is SSL?
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer, a digital authentication on your website which encrypts sensitive information received by your server.
It is a critical aspect of the design and launch of any website, and although it is believed by many that SSL certificates are only important on e-commerce websites collecting credit card details, every website must have one, and here is why.
In the eyes of Google, privacy cannot be negotiated and security is highly prioritized.
An SSL certificate should be likened to a padlock. It secures your domain name, location, and company name, thus, safeguarding your private information from hackers.
If your website has an SSL certificate when visited with the Google Chrome browser, a little padlock is displayed in the URL bar assuring the website visitor of safety. Also, your transfer protocol is changed from HTTP to HTTPS with the ‘S’ meaning secure.
HTTP vs HTTPS
HTTP, also known as Hypertext Transfer Protocol is a system that facilitates the receiving and transfer of information on the internet. HTTP is known to operate as an application layer protocol. This means that it focuses more on how the user sees information and less on how the data is transferred from one point to another. This process is known as ‘stateless’ meaning that it does not try to store memory from the previous web session.
HTTPS a secure hypertext transfer protocol was created for the authorization and complete security of web transactions. Confidential information must be secure during the server exchange to avoid unauthorized access from unknown sources, and HTTPS makes this possible. HTTP and HTTPS are similar as they follow the same basic protocol, the difference is that HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP.
Impact of SSL on Website SEO
SSL impacts a website in many ways. However, the biggest impacts are in search engine optimization.
Secure sites that follow user experience best practices have better chances of ranking higher in the Google search results pages.
Google has confirmed that when results are served following a query in the search engine, a website with an SSL certificate will have an advantage over an unsecured website if all other ranking factors are equal, although it is difficult to ascertain the actual impact of an SSL certificate on a site’s SEO rankings.
This is especially the case if a site with an SSL certificate is compared to a site without an SSL certificate but with more powerful backlinks. According to experts at Synapse Search, SEO company a strong backlink profile with quality links & brand mentions remains a primary search ranking factor.
Website owners and marketers should understand that an SSL certificate is not a trick that’ll magically place your site at the top of the search engine results page. But, if they do the right things and other search engine ranking factors are taken care of, an SSL certificate can be that extra boost that helps them outrank other websites.
Better rankings will increase traffic to your website. The more visibility your website gets on the search engine results page, the more visitors you get, and a study has been done that indicates that the first result on the SERP gets 95% of the traffic for that query.
Also, a secure website helps your business earn the trust of visitors which in turn makes them revisit your site whenever they need your services or the type of content that leads to more traffic.
Improved user experience
Without a doubt, an SSL certificate significantly improves the user experience.
If a visitor lands on an unsafe website, visible indicators will alert the user to this and because of this, the user may exit your website. Google Chrome ensures that the user is aware of the risks by clearly displaying that the site is not secure.
This damages the user experience of your site and increases your website bounce rate which is bad for your SEO. The much-needed awareness of internet security among internet users is being created by Google Chrome which publicly exposes unencrypted websites. Users are now more aware of unencrypted websites and are hesitant to spend any more time on the website after seeing that the website is not secure.
All this means that websites without an SSL certificate will have a poor user experience and higher bounce rates.
Secure connections help to earn the trust of users. A Global sign survey indicates that online purchases will be discontinued by 84% of users if data is being sent over an unsecured connection. Also, the interception or misuse of data online is a worry shared by a large majority of internet users. This makes having an SSL certificate important for every website.
Having an SSL certificate is highly beneficial to websites. While it may not catapult your website to the top spot on Google, it is a boost that gives your website an edge over your competitors.
(image credit – https://pixabay.com)