You may not have noticed but a lot of websites do not have an SSL certificate( recognised by the lack of http(s) at the beginning of the website address). We have just updated our own to be SSL compliant and I will now explain why.
For a long time now SEOs and everyone else in the digital marketing field have discussed the importance of https, will Google really force everyone into using it? The answer so far seems to be 'Yes'. First Google officially declared it as one of their many ranking factors, which they often do, and now this year they have released a new version of the Chrome browser which displays any website not displaying the https to be 'not secure'.
Who needs an HTTPS/SSL Certificate?
- E-commerce websites. Technically you cannot operate an e-commerce website and accept payments without an SSL certificate.
- Any website where you can make a payment. Quite simply like the above, it is a technical requirement to have an SSL certification in order to receive payment through your website.
- Websites requiring users to login. Users will be reluctant to sign up to websites which are considered 'not secure' by Google. At the bare minimum it should have a https.
- Websites looking to maximise user experience and SEO. I have no doubt that a website marked as unsecure will cause some users to bounce and indirectly hurt your seo efforts. It is a trust issue which is a big part of user experience.
What to do if you are not using https
It used to be the case that an SSL certificate would be fairly expensive and difficult to implement on your website. The much bigger reason however, is that people simply did not want to migrate to a different URL and lose some link juice (approximately 10% loss from a 301 redirect).
SSL has become a lot more widely available for webmasters, most of the top hosting providers offer free SSL implementation taking the hard technical work away from you.
If you do plan to buy the certificate and implement it yourself, I suggest reading through Googles https guideline. If you are using WordPress, there are many guides out there on how to set up https including this guide. This can be complicated for many people and you may be wise to ask your hosting provider to do it for you unless you have a decent level of server and website knowledge.
When setting up your https make sure to:
- Ensure your url is working – OK captain Obvious.
- Redirect url to canonical address for example http://bubblelocal.co.uk should redirect to https://bubblelocal.co.uk.
- Use 301 permanent redirect, not 302 temporary redirect.
The above tips will make sure you don’t lose any SEO points because of implementing https.
The conclusion is that switching to HTTPS will have immediate benefits in the form of better security and satisfying one of Googles ranking signals for SEO, In addition you may well experience long term benefits as Google intends for all websites in the future to use https. So why not get in there sooner rather than later?
The obvious drawback is the cost and the sheer hassle of setting it up. You would first need to purchase a certificate from $0-$1000, and then configure your website and server to set it up. After that you would need SEO knowledge to make sure your new website address with the https does not affect your site ranking negatively. You can do this by following the best practices for set up mentioned above.
If you’ve recently switched to HTTPS or are thinking about it, let us know about your experience or if you have any questions post in the comments below.
If you’re still confused then our good friends at Blank are great technical SEO consultants that may be able to help!