How Website’s Security Affects SEO
Security is very important online, there is no doubt about it. Cyber safety is becoming an increasingly larger issue as hackers are finding more and more ways to access private information and sensitive data.
You should always be looking to protect your website, and therefore anyone who uses your website. Why? Because if consumers have to give information and you don’t protect it, that is a breach of trust and you may be liable depending on the information that is exposed. This will also significantly impact your reputation.
Not only this but more consumers are aware of the issue of cyber security and they won’t give any information (or even visit a website) if it is not secure. Having a secure website is especially important if you are operating an e-commerce business because consumers need to give over very sensitive information such as their credit card details. You don’t want that in the wrong hands!
Any webmaster or professional SEO company knows that by having a secure website, it not only keeps your consumers happy, but it also positively affects your SEO. When talking about security here we are looking at websites with a “HTTPS” in their URL and therefore have an SSL certificate.
You should never take your security for granted and you will need to always be proactive with this issue. By securing your website you are encrypting it, therefore meaning hackers cannot access and decode any of the information without the encryption key.
In 2014, Google made security a more important issue; they put it into their algorithm as a ranking factor. This means, if you have an SSL certificate (therefore showing Google that you care about security and protecting personal information) you are likely to receive a higher rank.
However, now in 2017, some people have doubted its continued affect and don’t believe it is still necessary to ensure “HTTPS” for their website. I can assure you that security is as important as ever and you will need to have an SSL certificate (and it’s not just to keep Google happy!).
If you are still sitting on the fence and not sure what do to, then this article will help as it goes over the basics. After reading this article you will have a much better idea on the major aspects of website security, the advantages of a secure website on SEO as well as how to change your website from HTTP to HTTPS.
The difference between HTTP and HTTPS
Both the HTTP and the HTTPS make up the first part of any URL on the internet, when users look at this part it helps them easily distinguish if the website is secure or not. HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol and HTTPS stands for Secure Hyper Text Transfer Protocol.
These structures allow users to both receive and give information out on the internet. They both do the same thing; however HTTPS gives users an extra level of security. This additional layer of security is allowed through a Secure Sockets Layer (i.e. an SSL certificate). The SSL certificate ensures that when the data is transferred between user and web server the information is kept safe and secure.
As I said before, an SSL certificate is especially important when protecting sensitive information as the data is encrypted and cannot be decoded by hackers without an encryption key. An SSL certificate should be used when online transactions, authentication and/ or verifications are involved. This means if the information gets into the wrong hands, the hackers can’t actually do anything with it. Without an encryption key, the information is completely worthless.
Advantages and impact of HTTPS on SEO
When it comes to SEO there are many advantages/ impacts of an SSL certificate. This is even something that Google recommends; so if you are trying to get into Google’s good books (like every website), then an SSL certificate is a great start!
An SSL certificate has clear benefits for the security of your website (as explained above). In this section of the article we will be looking at the benefits an SSL certificate as specifically on SEO. Have a read of the major benefits below:
The most obvious advantage is your ranking in Google. As explained before, Google introduced security as a major part of their algorithm in 2014. Google now favours websites that care about security and purchase an SSL certificate. They do this by giving better rankings.
Its introduction in 2014 was a fairly light component of their algorithm, meaning it didn’t have a significant impact on your ranking. But now Google recognises the importance of security and has subsequently changed the strength of this security signal accordingly.
However, this doesn’t mean that if you decide to purchase an SSL certificate you will automatically go to the number one position. There are still a lot of other ranking factors that influence your rank. What it means is that if all other factors being equal between you and a competitor’s website, Google will use the SSL certificate as a tie breaker.
Despite all this attention directed towards security, and the clear benefits an SSL certificate provides, less than 1% of all website are actually secure. This means that an SSL certificate could probably be a great way to get ahead of your competition!
There have been countless studies to investigate the connection between an SSL certificate and a better ranking in Google.
On top of all this, websites with HTTPS tend to load faster than that of normal HTTP websites. Site speed is another one of Google’s ranking factors. This means that with an SSL certificate you are improving both your website’s security and speed.
Websites with an SSL certificate will also often see a higher level of conversions. This is because users trust secure websites more than that of unsecure ones. Therefore if a user clicks onto a website and sees it’s not secure, they may leave straight away, not purchasing anything or signing up, etc.
Consumers are genuinely concerned about the safety of their information, so why wouldn’t you do everything you can to alleviate the concern of this issue? An SSL certificate makes consumers feel safe and it gives them peace of mind. If they have a good experience on your website, they are more likely to come back again in the future.
As well as this, Google Chrome is now starting to make changes to ensure it is blatantly obvious when a website isn’t secure. This means users are easily able to identify if a website is secure or not. Below you can see the difference between a secure and an unsecure website through using Google Chrome.
Secure website with an SSL certificate:
Unsecure website with no SSL certificate:
The changes Google Chrome is making will mean that eventually all HTTP pages will look like this:
This is clearly more obvious and sends the signal to users that they need to be careful on this website. These days, users may not even take the risk and they would simply leave the page.
The better rank you have, the more visible your website is and therefore the more traffic you will see. As well as this, users see a secure site as a representation of authority as well as trust and they are likely to choose your website over another unsecure one. This will then tend to improve your website’s click through rate.
How to go from HTTP to HTTPS
So now you know all about the benefits an SSL certificate can have to not only your SEO, but other important factors as well. But how do you actually go about changing your website from HTTP to HTTPS? Well, lucky for you the process is fairly simple!
- Conduct some research about the different providers of SSL certificates (i.e. VeriSign, GeoTrust, Comodo, Digicert, Thawte). They will all have slightly different features and prices, etc. so it is important to find the best one for your website.
- Once you have done your research you will need to actually purchase the most appropriate SSL certificate!
- Then you are able to install the SSL certificate on to your website’s hosting profile.
- Here it is important to check all of the links to see if it is properly working.
Other than those steps, it is also important that you inform search engines of this change by setting up 301 redirects to HTTPS. This will mean that any user who has bookmarked your website will go straight to your new HTTPS website.
This should will give you enough information to convince you of the importance of having a secure website. Security doesn’t just affect SEO, but it also impacts how consumers feel about your website.
In this day and age, it is important to ensure your website is secure and the best way to do this is by purchasing an SSL certificate. With this extra layer of security you are showing both your consumers and Google that you care about protecting sensitive information.