Does a SSL certificate really improve SEO?
The debate continues. Does a SSL certificate really improve SEO?
What exactly is an SSL certificate and what does it do?
Here is what Google says:
"What is HTTPS?
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is an internet communication protocol that protects the integrity and confidentiality of data between the user's computer and the site. Users expect a secure and private online experience when using a website. We encourage you to adopt HTTPS in order to protect your users' connection to your website, regardless of the content on the site.
Data sent using HTTPS is secured via Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS), which provides three key layers of protection:
- Encryption—encrypting the exchanged data to keep it secure from eavesdroppers. That means that while the user is browsing a website, nobody can "listen" to their conversations, track their activities across multiple pages, or steal their information.
- Data integrity—data cannot be modified or corrupted during transfer, intentionally or otherwise, without being detected.
- Authentication—proves that your users communicate with the intended website. It protects against man-in-the-middle attacks and builds user trust, which translates into other business benefits."
Why should you care?
In Google Chrome you see the warning:
This is a bit scary.
Should I stay or should I go?
Not be to confused with the song by The Clash.
Contrast that with a site that has a SSL certificate a.k.a HTTPS:// You feel much more comfortable entering this site. You trust it. That is a big deal when you are on the internet. You don't want malware, porn pop-ups or the possibility of being hijacked to another page. It scares you and you want to get out of there quickly.
What does any of this have to do with SEO?
All things being equal Google will give preference to to an HTTPS website. That being said, a SSL certificate most likely will not make any significant changes to your SEO rankings. So, is it worth the cost to purchase a SSL certificate. You are looking in the $150 range for a single domain site.
Does this make sense if there is no guaranteed dramatic increase in SEO?
Think of it as your storefront. An unappealing storefront, scary parking lot and "shady" characters hanging out front will most likely keep you in your car and you will drive somewhere else. A website that prompts security warnings will most likely chase visitors away.
Peace of mind and trust are critical pieces of the customer experience.
A SSL certificate is a modest investment to promote trust and confidence so visitors will enter your website and learn about your products and services.
Once you have decided to move forward with a SSL certificate, don't forget to let Google Analytics know you did this through the search console. It is really simple. Click here for step by step instructions.