Google drove SEO experts’ attention to HTTPS certificates when, in August of 2014, they made an announcement through their official Webmaster blog that they are making HTTPS signal a ranking factor in their algorithms.
Why did Google take this step? Google’s reasoning was that they wanted to make the web a safer place, while experts speculate that it’s a way of business marketing, as Google themselves have entered in the domain business.
Before heading further, let’s take a look into what the acronym stands for: HTTPS is Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. It’s a mix of HTTP and Security Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols.
Data is transferred through HTTPS, and it’s SSL’s duty to encrypt that data for protection. SSL is also called Transport Layer System (TLS). The HTTPS platform is used to counter spyware and attacks from outside sources, thus making the web a safer place to share.
But these websites aren’t just for websites with high-security needs. It’s likely that the average internet surfer will come across HTTPS platforms in day-to-day life through email services, social networks, and online transaction system.
It’s an assurance to your website user that the data will be stored in an encrypted form, and that it’s secure. Although today the effect of HTTPS on ranking may be minor, you never know when a new update will make it a large factor in your overall SEO.
Steps to get HTTPS Certification
- Ensure if your host supports SSL certificates on the domain. There are several tools that help in doing so.
- Choose the type of domain (your domain should always be purchased from a reputable certified authority like GoDaddy).There are usually three types: single, multi-domain, and wildcard certificates. These are for single, sub-domain, and dynamic sub-domains respectively.
- Before you purchase your domain, understand the need of your website and usage of the type of certificate you are planning to acquire.
TIP: Read Google’s guidelines for security.
Is it Required?
Many people suggest that the security is only required for websites where there is an exchange of personal data.
However, this isn’t accurate for two reasons.
Firstly, Google is unpredictable. You never know when Google might release an update that makes HTTPS certification a key factor in ranking. Google surprised everyone when they flat-out said they were beginning to put weight on HTTPS, and a lot of people are speculating that this is a strong indicator they’ll be looking more closely at this factor in the future.
Secondly, which is quite obvious, is that security’s needed by all, and it’s likely that over time everyone will require an SSL platform.
In the case that you only have HTTPS on a check-out page of your website, you’ll need to do a little more leg work. You will have to make changes to the website and each URL as well as all files, and nearly everything else has to go over to SSL. The task is tricky and time-consuming, but it can be done.
Whether or not the reasoning for this added security is a Google business tactic, most website owners won’t be willing to take the risk.