Just over 50% of Alexa's top 1 million websites redirect users to a default HTTPS/SSL version, and the number of sites with SSL certification is growing quickly. In the US, 73% of pages loaded by Chrome for Windows had HTTPS, up from 59% just a year ago.
So why are we seeing this massive uptake? Well, aside from improved security that it offers for website's visitors, there are a number of SEO and ranking factors that are also worth taking into account.
Three Reasons SSL Certification is Vital for SEO
The three top reasons why HTTPS is important for SEO are - first, because it's a ranking factor in Google's algorithm; second, it has a big impact on bounce rates and time on site; and third, it could be just enough to outrank your competition in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS).
1. Because Google Says So
Google has actually gone on record saying that SSL certification is a ranking factor. In their words: "We'd like to announce that we're adjusting our indexing system to look for more HTTPS pages. Specifically, we'll start crawling HTTPS equivalents of HTTP pages, even when the former are not linked to from any page."
They have made it clear that as a ranking factor, it's given much less weight than high-quality content, but they have also said that they may decide to give it more weight in the future. In their words, they want to "encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web."
To take it a step further, Google also shared the results of their testing that showed the HTTPS signal had positive results both in terms of ranking and relevancy in the Google search, and Backlinko's analysis shows that an SSL certificate is moderately correlated to improved rankings.
2. It Can Have a Big Impact on Your Bounce Rates and Visitor's Time on Site
If you haven't installed an SSL certificate on your site, website visitors will see a warning in the address bar saying 'Not Secure!' overlaid with a red X for all pages that don't have HTTPS set up correctly.
Depending on what type of site you have, this may cause visitors to leave your site. If you request email details or have a shop on your site that takes payment, the lack of SSL certification is likely to mean that visitors won't trust your site and will navigate away. Even if your site is purely informational, non-savvy visitors may think that the site is broken or hacked and quickly click away.
This indirectly affects your SEO as your bounce rates and time on site are likely to be affected. There is a ranking correlation between longer time on site and lower bounce rates. If you have a page that is ranking well for a term and getting a good click-through rate, but the page itself has a high bounce rate, this is a sign to Google that your site isn't giving users the information that they're looking for.
A high bounce rate or low time on site increases the likelihood that Google will serve up different results for users - from competitor sites that have a lower bounce rate. This is especially true for sites that are content-driven or those that offer a product or service. Higher click-through rates are a sign that users are finding the content that they're looking for, but if your pages aren't SSL certified, visitors may lack the confidence to keep going on your site.
3. In a Dead Heat, It May Be Enough to Rank You Ahead of Your Competition
This is a great opportunity for website owners, devs, and SEO specialists to help get a site ahead of the competition (or to ensure that your competitors don't get an edge on you!).
- SSL certification is easy, cheap and quick to implement
- It's definitely a factor in Google's ranking algorithm
- Most of your competition probably doesn't have SSL certification yet
If your website is tied with another on every other ranking signal, then having HTTPS could be enough to beat them. If you're targeting high competition keywords, it makes sense that you'd want to have SSL certification, even if it only gives you a tiny boost. And if you're ranking on the first page of Google for a term, it's interesting to note that results with HTTPS correlated with higher rankings.
SSL Certificates do more than providing security for websites. Now is the time to start using SSL Certificates to keep your website secure and also improve your Google Ranking. We make it easy for you purchase leading brands of SSL like RapidSSL, GeoTrust and Symantec/DigiCert. Learn more here.
Tuesday, April 28, 2020