https ssl secure

To SSL or Not To SSL


To SSL or Not To SSL

That’s a question you may find yourself asking if you run a website and rely on SEO for traffic

Google recently added another ranking signal to it’s algorithm and it comes in the form of security – and a double edged sword (you’ll see why at the end)

In real Google-esque style and following their life long mantra of “don’t be evil” it makes sense websites that show their accountability in the form of a secure and encrypted connection should get a bit of Google Love, after all Google when encrypted a while ago and seems the direction everyone is going, SSL isn’t just for shopping any more.

Here’s what Google said themselves about it:

For these reasons, over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. 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.

The impact as mentioned above is less than 1% of all search ranking queries but never the less a ranking factor and in a crowded market that is ever growing it’s better to be an early adopter and stay ahead of the game than be left behind.

This is a long way from over – this is just the beginning in the weeks ahead Google will publish more accurate information based on their findings as more sites adopt SSL.

In the meantime here are a few things Google say you could do to get yourself better oriented with SSL encryption.

  • Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate
  • Use 2048-bit key certificates
  • Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
  • Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains
  • Check out our Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address
  • Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
  • Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag.

How will switching to SSL affect your sites SEO?

I can see a pretty big drawback in terms of SEO and it may be the biggest deciding factor on whether or not you should make the switch.

Website Speed. Which is more than a “very lightweight signal”, I have seen a number of negative SEO attacks in the form of malicious code injected into the header slowing down load times which affects rankings. Having an SSL encrypted website will give you a tiny boost in SEO and if your servers cant handle it stay away on the other hand if your servers are able to handle the extra load of SSL and not slow down your website load times you should be heading over the the SSL shop.

The concept of having SSL on a site that doesn’t store sensitive data is very new as we follow this emerging trend we will undoubtedly uncover other reasons why or why not to adopt SSL.

Although I couldn’t find anything new with Matt Cutts talking about SSL and SEO here is an older video where he doesn’t seem to really know the impact of SSL and rankings.

I woud say in summary and in one sentence. If you don’t know what your doing don’t touch it, if you do have a look into it and get started with the move.


About the Author Simon

Simon is an intrnet marketing geek, search engine marketing activist and avid flyer. Aside from writing this blog for fun simon is also the President and Head of Search Marketing for Noam Design Follow simon on Twitter or G+.