The Importance Of HTTPS For Search Ranking

Having a secure website always had many advantages. Having that “lock” next to your URL says a lot about how you treat your visitors.

Still, although inexpensive, SSL certificates were something not many site owners cared about. Sure, most online stores always tried to make purchases safe, but blog owners didn’t care too much.

But, credit card information is not the only thing that can fall into the wrong hands. Hackers can obtain emails, which they can later sell, or try to crack the accounts, retrieving passwords for all connected sites, including banks—and your credit card information gets compromised, one way or another.

To force more people into installing SSL, Google decided to do something about it, and HTTPS became a ranking factor. Secure sites will outrank those without protection, HTTPS > HTTP.

But, what does it all mean?

What Is HTTPS?

HTTPS, short from Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, is an encrypted version of HTTP, which means we have to explain the later one first.

HTTP is all about showing the information to the user, and this protocol doesn’t care how the data gets to the user’s screen, as long as it’s there. HTTP traffic is “stateless” meaning it doesn’t store any data from previous sessions, saving up bandwidth and increasing load speeds.

Therefore, HTTP is a useful option for showing HTML pages and is also a good option for websites that don’t have any forms and require no user information. If you have a site whose only purpose is to show your company name, phone, and address, HTTP is good enough.


An Added Layer Of Security

Nowadays too many websites require some form of visitor’s information. Something as basic as leaving a comment under articles requires you to log in with email and password.

Not to mention online stores where you have to enter credit card information or government websites where you fill in fragile personal data. For all those purposes HTTP is not enough, and you need something more secure.

That’s where HTTPS comes in to play. This type of protocol cares about how the package is transferred. They have a security key (SSL) that encrypts the traffic, requesting authorization upon access.

So, even if someone intercepts the package, without the key, it’s useless, as the information it carries lies behind an unbreakable code. SSL certificate also makes sure the data integrity is preserved. The three pillars of HTTPS are encryption, data integrity, and authentication.


How To Get HTTPS?

To secure your site and user data behind an HTTPS protocol, you will need to purchase an SSL certificate.

Secure Socket Layer ensures the data is transported safely to the destination. SSL is what makes the “S” part of HTTPS. Unlike HTTP, which is “stateless” which means it doesn’t care how data gets to its destination, SSL does. So, HTTP cares how the data looks to the end user; SSL cares how it’s delivered, making sure it’s not compromised or corrupted. Together, they make a perfect combination.

As we said, you need to buy an SSL certificate. Where you buy is your choice. Most hosting providers will offer one (for free), with your hosting plan. But, if you got your domain name separately, your domain registrar also has domain name + SSL bundles. And some companies only sell SSL certificates. Just make sure to get one from a trusted source.

Also, keep in mind that some companies offer free SSL certificates. While these are better than nothing, they usually only protect the data in one way—from the user’s computer to the server, not the other way around. These are also “HTTPS,” but the user data will not be adequately protected.


Why Does HTTPS Matter For SEO?

A known ranking factor

Google cares about security. Their job is ranking the best content high but also making sure that the content they show high in the search results is secure when you do SEO in Singapore.

To motivate site owners to convert their sites to HTTPS, they publicly announced that a secure website will outrank unsecured one, which turned HTTPS into a ranking factor This is not a huge factor, but those little things add up, and there’s a massive difference between being on the first or the second page of the search results. You don’t want something as cheap as SSL to stand in your way.


Improved user experience

But, it’s not only about the position of your site, but it’s also about user experience too. Google Chrome, which is one of the most popular web browsers, is labeling websites as “secure” or “not secure.” Eventually, all HTTP sites will get the “not secure” red warning, which will not buy user trust. Instead of risking their information, people will find other sites that are secure, and you will lose out customers to your competition.

And, if you lose traffic, Google will notice it, which will eventually lead to a lower position in the results. So yes, the user experience will indirectly translate to lower rankings.


Slight speed boost

Speed is another ranking factor, and HTTPS helps this too. That’s because modern web browsers require HTTPS to use HTTP/2, which is the latest and the fastest web protocol.


Competitive advantage

There’s one more benefit of having SSL—only 1% of websites have it. If you want your site and your business stand out (and above) the rest, there’s no easier way than to make everything secure by purchasing an SSL certificate.


Don’t Make HTTPS Your Only SEO Strategy

Although HTTPS is a ranking factor, the boost you will get from switching to it is not that big, at least when compared to other significant factors such as the quality of the content you provide.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t switch to HTTPS, just don’t make it your everything. Running a quality SEO campaign is all about making the right steps, on and off your website. Getting an SSL certificate is only one, small, but essential step. Other take more time, dedication, and knowledge. And if you lack any of that, it’s better to leave your site’s search results position to the pros.




About the Author:

My name is Wynn Zhou - SEO expert in Singapore, and I’m the founder & Director here at Digital M which provide digital marketing and SEO in Singapore. I’ll be getting my 10 years of digital marketing experience, I am personally focussed on getting your business to the top of Google so you can enjoy the growth of up to 295% year on year like my other clients.
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