13 Nov 2014

The low down on SSL and SEO

SSL & SEO

Lately there has been a buzz in the online marketing and webmaster communities around SSL and its impact on SEO. Does an SSL certificate benefit your websites ranking potential?

So just what is SSL? In a nutshell SSL encrypts the communications channel between your internet browser and an SSL protected website. It aims to stop traffic snooping on this connection.

SSL Padlock

SSL Padlock HTTPS Identifier

Most end users can see an SSL protected website through key web browser identifiers such as a green/padlock and the https:// protocol in the address bar.

In the past SSL certificates have been favoured by websites that:

  • Conduct ecommerce transactions.
  • Accept sensitive/private user information.
  • Contain secure restricted content (banks, govt, commercial).

Google Announces SSL as a Ranking Signal

In a recent Google Webmasters Central post, Google have confirmed they are now using SSL as a ranking signal in their overall ranking algorithm.

For now it’s only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web. (Google Webmasters Central)

Google factor a massive amount of “signals” into their algorithm. Hundreds of different points influence a websites overall position in search results. This confirms HTTPS as being one of the signals that influences ranking.

Important SSL SEO Considerations

Before installing an SSL certificate for SEO benefit there are a number of considerations, which will effect the correct implementation of SSL.

  • Correctly reference your website assets relatively, failure to do so will invalidate your certificate.
  • Implement appropriate HTTPS redirects, ensuring your link profile maintains as much value as possible.
  • Purchase the appropriate SSL certificate to your needs.
  • Ability to install SSL certificates on your website (web host)

SSL Certificate Requirements

There are also a number of technical requirements to be met before an SSL certificate can be issued

  • Dedicated IP Address for maximum browser compatibility (not essential)
  • Website owner identification (depending on the SSL certificate chosen)
  • Access to specific @domainname.com email to validate domain ownership

SEO SSL Recommendations

As its a relatively simple and cheap process to purchase and install an SSL certificate it makes sense to tick this ranking factor off right away.

Additionally studies have shown SSL instils more confidence in a website; from a website users perspective so can have overall user conversion benefits.

Further reading: