Since Google started favouring secure websites with SSL/TLS certificates back in 2014, being secure has never been such an important a factor as it is today to get your website to the top of Google Search Rankings.

According to an independent study by Moz [efn_note][/efn_note] 50% of websites with HTTPS are favoured by Google on Search engine results.  Therefore it is important to make sure that your business website is secure and trustworthy to avoid losing out to your competitors.

What Is SSL And Why Is It Important For My Website?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s a technology that establishes an encrypted link between a web server (your host) and the browser of your website visitors.

An SSL certificate installed on your website guarantees that all data transferred between the web server and browser is encrypted and as such remain private. This protects your website from hackers and it ensures security for your users.

It makes no difference if you are a massive eCommerce store or a small blog.  The advantages of providing website security to your visitors apply to all websites. By installing an SSL certificate combined with effective SEO marketing, it can give you the upper hand giving your website a higher chance of appearing in search results above your competitors.

How Does It Affect My Business?

If you have a blog or a business website I’m sure you have an idea of what effective marketing steps to take to make your content visible to your audience. Having a secure and trustworthy website is an important factor that should not be dismayed.  If your website is NOT secure and is accessed via HTTP and not HTTPS (note the S), your visitors will be greeted with a non-secure warning, which can have a negative effect on your reputation.

Unsecured Website Warning

Unsecured Website Warning

Any website that shows this kind of warning will generally be avoided by most users. After all, no one wants to risk entering a website that poses a threat to their online security.

Not only that it will affect first impressions, but having an unsecured warning can also compromise your:

1. Brand

You have worked hard to build an honest and trustworthy business. When your site visitor sees a red warning, they might start to wonder if your website is safe and question whether it’s legit or not.  When you or your web designer obtains a certificate on your behalf, steps are taken by the issuing authority to ensure the certificate is only issued to the legitimate business or its representatives.

2. Your Readers And Customers

Whether you want your visitors to contact you or subscribe to your newsletters, by entering their personal details on your website means they are transmitting that data and potentially identifiable information from their browser to your server.  Knowing the site is secure ensures that the data transmitted is being sent to you and not being intercepted by a nasty hacker.

How Does An SSL Certificate Affect My Google Search Rankings?

Google’s updated algorithm ensures that pages with an HTTPS URL are ranked higher. As you can see on the graph below more than 50% of all pages on Google’s first page results were HTTPS pages.

Https usage trend

Percentage of pages loaded over HTTPS in Chrome

Not only that Google takes priority on sites with HTTPS, but it also labels websites without HTTPS as ‘not secure’. The possibility of your user ‘feeling secure’ is lessened, thus increasing the bounce rate which can additionally negatively impact your SEO rankings.

I’m sure you have visited a website before and saw an alert stating that ‘Your connection is not private’ which made you navigate away. Well, this is how your website will look to your users without SSL installed.

How Do I Make My Website More Secure?

In order to migrate your HTTP website to HTTPS, it is important to work with a trusted provider.  Speak to your web designer or web host.  They will be able to advise what is the best SSL certificate for your website. Once you have decided on an authorised SSL provider you will need to make sure that it’s properly installed so that Google will index your website correctly.

I recommend taking these steps to ensure that you obtain the right trusted SSL certificate:

  • ONLY buy SSL certificates from trusted companies.
  • Decide on the type of certificate you need, it could be a single domain, multi-domain or a wildcard certificate with various levels of encryption and guarantees by the vendor.
  • Make sure that your webserver whether it be Apache, Nginx, IIS or other server supports HTTP Strict Transport Security, this prevents access to non-secure pages.
  • Use 301 ‘permanent’ redirects to make sure that you are pointing users and search engines to the correct secure pages.
  • Use protocol relative URLs to minimise the possibilities of serving 404 pages when a user lands on a URL.  This means if you are entering a link to a page on your site, you use neither https or http, solely // and the browser decides the protocol based on the referring page.

Do You Need Further Help?

If any of this sounds a little too overwhelming, maybe I can help!  Check out my services where you’ll find affordable technical website support covering everything from SSL setup and installations to site backups and routine maintenance for your website. Leaving you to get on with your business while letting me take care of ALL the techy stuff!

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