HTTPS & SEO: How Much Does An SSL Certificate Impact Google Rankings?
If you’re an avid internet user, you’ve probably noticed that some websites throw a “Your connection to this site is not secure” error or show a “Not secure” message. And sometimes, you won’t even be allowed to view certain content – you’ll just get an error such as “Authentication Error” or “Secure Connection Failed”. These errors are caused due to an absence of HTTPS or due to an incorrectly configured SSL certificate.
Did you know that Google ranks HTTPS websites higher? A recent survey by Pew Research found that 68% of users believe current protection measures are not enough for their data privacy and security. That’s why Google, Mozilla, and others started encouraging all websites to switch to HTTPS. Google is rewarding websites for making the switch by ranking HTTPS websites higher, making it an important consideration for SEO.
Why is It Important to Get an SSL/ TLS Certificate For Your Website?
HTTPS is a short form of Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure. The main advantage of having an https:// is that it provides secure, encrypted communication between a browser and a website.
Pew Research also found that 73% of users trusted websites that had an SSL certification for data security and privacy. According to Cybersecurity Ventures security damages will cost $6 trillion by the year 2021. It is a no-brainer that major search engines favor websites that are trusted, secure and certified.
What is the Connection Between HTTPS and Google Rankings? or Why does google use https?
Since 2014, Google has been signaling a greater push for website security. Among other things, Google has been making changes in their algorithms to prioritize websites that have SSL/ TLS certificates installed. Independent research by SEO experts have confirmed that websites that have HTTPS encryption get priority over other websites that do not have encryption.
How Much SEO Benefit will My Website Get from HTTPS?
Google’s ranking algorithms remain a pretty closely guarded secret. We know that HTTPS is one of many factors Google uses when ranking websites. If you want your website to rank higher (who doesn’t?) using HTTPS is one thing you can do to achieve higher rankings.
HTTPS Correlates with Higher Rankings
Independent research over the past several years has repeatedly found that Google favors HTTPS urls. Here are some of the studies that have found a correlation between HTTPS and higher Google rankings:
- Moz’s search ranking factors study found a 0.04 correlation for HTTPS
- SearchMetrics’ ranking factors study found a 0.19 correlation.
- SEMRush’s ranking factors study found that HTTPS was the 10th most important factor analyzed.
HTTPS can Give You the Edge Over a Similar Competing Website
Google has confirmed that if all other ranking factors are similar then having an https:// can be the tie-breaker – being the ranking factor that pushes your website up in the rankings over that competitor. Search engine optimization (SEO) is more and more competitive, so every advantage can help. On the flip side, if your website uses HTTP, your competitor could use HTTPS as the small advantage to outrank your website and push you down in the Google rankings.
This alone should be a reason for businesses to buy an SSL certificate from a trusted certification authority. Moreover, more than 50% of webmasters have already moved onto HTTPS and many more are planning the move in the coming months.
What are the Best Practices For Switching to HTTPS?
It is not difficult to setup https for your website if you have modest technical knowledge. Usually, adding an SSL certificate to the website is done with just a few clicks in your hosting control panel. The tricky part is what you do after the green padlock icon appears on your website.
Google recognizes when you move your website to https. It is advised that you migrate your website to https in one go while installing SSL certificate as it ensures that there are no loose ends left to haunt you. Migrating your website to https in short pieces impacts your SEO adversely. It may happen that your SEO rankings may drop slightly before the start climbing up the ranks again.
Here are a few HTTP to HTTPS best practices to get you started:
- Switch your entire website to HTTPS right away.
- Set up 301 redirects to move all visitors from HTTP to HTTPS.
- Set up Google Search Console profiles for your HTTP and your HTTPS urls.
- Be sure that your CMS (eg WordPress) is correctly configured to use HTTPS.
- Check your website for mixed content, broken links, etc. due to urls still pointing to HTTP.
Considering all the above benefits, we recommend moving your website to HTTPS to ensure the security and privacy of your users and their data.
If you have not already switched your website to HTTPS, you can test its security level and configuration then use our free SSL Tools to help with the transition.