HTTPS As A Ranking Factor
If you have been in the website business (adult or mainstream) for more than five years, you should remember when Google announced their stance regarding HTTPS as a ranking factor. If not, this important announcement came back in 2014 when only 0,3% of websites had an SSL certificate.
For several years, the speed of HTTPS adoption was slow, even though Google kept sending out information concerning the need for a more secure internet. On September 7th, 2016 Google set a firm timeline that beginning in January 2017, they were going to mark all non-secure sites visited via their Chrome browser. Knowing the popularity of the Chrome browser, this info should not leave anyone indifferent. Take a look at the current browser usage here. Keeping its promise, “Mighty G” implemented this feature in a form of a grey warning information in the Chrome address field. Once the user navigated to a website, they were warned that this website was not secure. Definitely, not something that you want to show potential visitors, right? Most if not all of your viewers will be scared and will leave your site immediately. Not only that you will lose valuable visitors but you will destroy your bounce rate which is considered an important ranking factor today.
Just when you thought it could get no worse, Google continued their push for HTTPS. For more than a year now, Google has been testing ways to mark non-https websites on the search engine results page. This feature was implemented in several locations in the US and had the effect of a huge red flag on the website’s search snippet. Given all these Google mandates how does https affect the ranking of your website?
HTTPS AS A RANKING FACTOR
Having a secure site version could mean an extra layer of security to users. However, the true webmaster motivation is the potential ranking boost. Since HTTPS was officially acknowledged as a ranking signal in 2014, there has been a lot of talk about the power of this SEO signal and its contribution to higher SE positioning.
The SEO experts community agree on the effect HTTPS has on the rankings of the website. As a sole measure of a website optimization, it won’t make your traffic rise drastically, that’s for sure. Usually, getting an SSL certificate (https) is just a part of an ongoing SEO process that influences other factors that impact rankings such as; page load speed, fixing technical issues, on-page optimization, etc. For this reason, it is often hard to distinguish the exact effect HTTPS has on the rankings, though the overall trend is positive.
Conversely, leaving your site in non-secure HTTP status is an issue. With an increasing speed of HTTPS adoption and future Google updates, the owners of non-https websites risk a massive decline in click-through rate (CTR). Why is this important? Because CTR is now an important SEO factor. Search engines are using it to measure how good they are in delivering results to their visitors. If a site has a low CTR, then that means it should go down and not ranked with the best sites with a high CTR.
WHAT IS THE PRICE OF MOVING TO HTTPS?
Finally, some good news regarding HTTPS as a ranking factor. Getting an SSL certificate is free. Don’t let the multitudes of sites offering paid SSL to take your hard earned money. If you don’t know how to get a free https certificate, drop us an email and we will share the appropriate information with you. The second part of SSL certificate implementation can be tricky. Not to worry as there are many online tutorials to guide you through this important process. If your site is using WordPress, there is a great plugin that we use when moving sites to https. The paid version is also available but if you are tight on budget, the free one will do the job.