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How SSL affects SEO

February 15, 2017

Implementing an SSL certificate is a basic security measure that allows your website’s visitors to browse using a secure connection. Websites that use SSL get a boost in search rankings, but companies are often reluctant to make the switch. We talked to Staffan Ragnö, partner at SEO agency Firstly, about Google’s security initiatives and SSL’s impact on organic search rankings.

Staffan Ragnö | Firstly

Staffan Ragnö, Firstly

 Security as an investment

The role of web security is transforming and  security measures can impact your brand’s reputation in more ways than ever before. Staffan Ragnö from SEO agency Firstly explains: “As a content distributor, Google aims to offer the best content based on the user’s search terms, which is why it encourages webmasters to implement features like SSL and offer visitors a secure connection.”

To show companies that SSL is a good investment, some extra incentives were needed: “In 2014, Google announced that websites secured with SSL would get a bonus to perform better in organic search. Even though the offer only corresponded to a 1% value increase, it was enough to convince many to consider switching to SSL.”

SSL search rankings | Detectify

The advantages of a secure connection go beyond SEO visibility. Staffan adds: “Other initiatives are highlighting secure websites with a coloured icon in Google Chrome and in the search results list.”

Switching to SSL

Staffan says that SSL is becoming a frequent topic in client dialogues: “It’s becoming more common as the implementation scale and security awareness grow.” This does not come as a surprise – users read about security in the media and a seemingly small problem like an in-browser alert about a missing SSL certificate can have a negative impact on a brand.

SSL search rankings | Detectify

Those who wish to reap the benefits of Google’s ranking boost can get started by implementing an SSL certificate: “If the client is interested in increasing their long-term organic search visibility and revenue, we think they should consider SSL.“

However, the purpose of security is not just improved search visibility, Staffan emphasizes: ”What’s even more important is the responsibility that companies, organisations and authorities have to offer website visitors a secure experience that reflects the entire organisation. If you move to SSL for your customers and not just for SEO, it will benefit both in the long run.

The future will be security-oriented

Staffan explains that it is not clear what incentives Google will provide in the future in order to prioritise security. However, he points out that their stance on the matter is no secret as is evident in this Tweet by Parisa Tabriz, team lead for Google’s security technicians.

SSL rankings | Detectify

What’s next for security and search? Staffan says mobile security might be the next step: “What could be interesting is the recent shift to focusing on the mobile experience when ranking websites in organic search. Mobile security is still a relatively unexplored area that changes the demands on web administrators.”

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