Google to reward secure websites
Google has outlined their intentions to reward secure websites, those websites that you notice have https:// rather than just simply http://, with better rankings than those that don’t. It is a move by Google that if you are an online marketing consultant probably won’t come as a big surprise. It might just come with the obligatory Google has made yet another change eye roll…
So why is Google doing this?
Believe it or not, Google is on our side…
They are here to reward the website owners doing the right things and punish the people that don’t. So then it doesn’t come as any real surprise that Google are wanting to promote and encourage a safe searching experience. By setting up and using an SSL Certificate within your website, it is one of the best ways to protect the people using your website as well as yourself.
How much will this increase your rankings by..?
Google has suggested that it could contribute as much or as little as a 1% ranking factor to where your website lives in the search results page. That might not sound like a lot but when you add up all of the different ranking signals that Google uses to position your website, it is nothing to be sneezed at.
What it might come down to is if other websites in the same field as you are using an SSL Certificate… If they are and you are not, you might find that they are out performing you in the rankings. If they are not, then you might be okay for now or you might decide to be the trend setter and get an edge over your competition.
What does it all mean..?
- https: Hypertext Transfer Protocol, the ‘S’ then stands for secure.
- SSL: Secure Sockets Layer.
In laymen terms, to achieve a website which uses the web protocol ‘https’ you need to purchase and install a SSL Certificate. This then allows data to be transferred between a website and a web browser in a way which is encrypted. This in turn stops hackers who might be sitting between the two from stealing your information as you use the internet.
To be honest, before Google’s announcement, we really only worried about installing an SSL Certificate on a clients website in which personal details were passed. For example a website that had some type of payment form or possibly even login details as it made sense to have that type of information as secure as possible.
What does this mean to a website owner:
For website owners or managers there are two main things that you should be aware of when considering updating your website to a secure protocol.
#1: Increase in annual costs:
If you are a website owner it will mean that your hosting costs will potentially increase each year due to you needing to have a current SSL Certificate to obtain https status. Check with your hosting company but this will more than likely be an annual fee and how the cost will depend on the type of SSL Certificate that you end up getting. There are a few to choose from depending on the type of website you need secured.
#2: Redirecting the old website:
If you weren’t a fan of the first point you are not going to love the second… Basically once you have installed the SSL Certificate on your website and your URL address contains the mighty ‘S’, Google will then see that as a second website… Why? Because your URL address will have changed. This is obviously really bad from a duplicate content standpoint and could potentially draw a penalty from Google. I know…
At the moment Google doesn’t have a quick and easy way of saying to Goolge, ‘Hey, we have now have an SSL Certificate installed on our website like you asked’. Google does have a feature inside of Google Webmaster Tools, in which you can tell Google that your website should or shouldn’t start with www. Hopefully this will change soon and Google will make this process possible.
Instead you, your web developer or your SEO guy will have to go through your entire site and 301 redirect ever page to the https version… If you have a big website, this is going to be a big job!
So what should I do?
I can’t answer this as every website is different and will have different factors to consider… Sorry. What I can say is that at some stage, be it now or in the future, it is something that you are certainly going to want to do. Whether or not you do it now will depend on the size of your website, your web expertise or the people who work on your website, how gun-hoe you are and, to be honest, what you’re competition is doing…
Watch Google’s Keynote on HTTPS:
I hope this helps!
Thanks so much for reading,