Upside-Down Thinking by Patric Fransko
by Patric Fransko
March 17th, 2021

Is Lack Of Security Costing Your Website The Ranking It Deserves?

We all know the Google algorithm effects where websites show up in searches changes on an ongoing basis. They never really tell you the exact formula to follow in order to get the best results, but they do give insight into the things that they feel are important. When they do give you a peek behind the curtain as to what elements go into the algorithm, it makes sense to take them seriously and act quickly.

One such element that Google has been telling people is a ranking signal beginning in 2014 was the inclusion of a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate on your website. However, even though 7 years have passed, roughly 40% of websites still do not have an SSL certificate (https) integrated. Also, adding an SSL certificate will help the SEO of your website.

In addition, an SSL certificate adds a layer of security to your website. By not having this security in place, information being transferred to your website is at risk of being intercepted by a third party. The browser will check the SSL certificate and verify the legitimacy and then encrypt the connection between the browser and the website so that an outside party cannot intercept any data being transferred.

There is also much to be said for user experience and trust on sites with a certificate. At a minimum, on core browsers like Chrome, without an SSL your visitor will be greeted with the caution triangle and a “Not Secure” warning right next to your domain name on the website. In other cases, the browser may actually create a pop-up window warning the visitor that the website is not secure and asking them if they still wish to proceed. Obviously not the best initial foot forward to someone visiting your site.

So, how can you tell if your website has an SSL certificate? It’s actually pretty simple. Go to your site and look at the menu bar with the url address displayed. If the site is secured, the address will appear like it does here for my company website. You will see the address led by “https,” not just “http” and you will not see a “Not Secure” warning next to it.

Installing an SSL certificate can be confusing and expensive if done improperly, so I suggest consulting with the company that built your website or is hosting your website. However, if you are extremely proficient with web development or are using a platform that makes adding a certificate easy, you can go that route as well.

Once the SSL is installed, you will want to notify the primary search engines (Google, Yahoo/Bing) that you now have an https version of your website and submit for that version to be crawled. Like many things in SEO and website user experience, this one element will not make or break your website. However, this upgrade is truly a no brainer that everyone should integrate not only for the SEO benefit, but also for a more secure website.

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