Boosting Your Website in Search Engines by Employing HTTPS/SSL

Google has announced that they use over 200 signals to compute how well a website ranks. Google is adding HTTPS/SSL as a relatively weak signal that could give smart webmasters that slight edge they need to gain the upper hand in search results.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the HTTPS/SSL signal by itself isn’t very strong. It’s only enough to tip the scales in the favor of about 1% of the total global queries conducted on Google.

The interesting thing is that Google may plan to weight the HTTPS/SSL signal heavier in the future. Combine that with a few other unique SEO-related benefits that a HTTPS website can bring to understand why more than just 1% of webmasters might be switching to use it.

Why Implement HTTPS/SSL?

There’s a plethora of reasons to implement SSL on a website.

The most prominent of those reasons it to provide increased security for visitors. It prevents man-in-the middle attacks and other phishing schemes, prevents data tampering, and encrypts all data that passes between the server and the client.

Besides the signal that Google has already listed, there are a few ways that SSL can positively impact SEO. It can decrease negative factors like bounce rates by providing visitors with a certificate of trust from the moment that the first page of a website loads.

It can also positively impact SEO by making it easier for others to view a website as an authority source, especially considering the amount of work required to obtain an SSL certificate. This can result in more links and more inbound traffic due to the links looking more authentic when shared.

What Do Websites With SSL Need to Do?

With the announcement of HTTPS/SSL being factored in as a ranking factor, there is a large amount of confusion as to how this will affect websites that already employ SSL.

The “boost” that this new factor brings should only affect pages the currently have SSL enabled on them. If a website uses always-on SSL on every page, then the entire website will receive the boost. If it only has one or two pages that use SSL, then only those pages will receive it.

For webmasters that have recently implemented SSL, the need to check for errors and other issues that may negatively impact the browsing experience of visitors should be apparent. Images, videos, web applications and any other third-party included content needs to be double-checked to ensure that no errors are produced when users load the pages.

What Drawbacks Does SSL Bring?

There is no drawback in terms of SEO when a website switches to using SSL. The only drawbacks might come as a side effect of improperly employing SSL.

To prevent this, follow the following advice:

Decide upon using a single, multi-domain or wildcard certificate.
Always use relative URLs when linking to pages and media on the same SSL-secured domain.
Don’t disallow search engine spiders from crawling HTTPS URLs.
Avoid using the “noindex robots” meta tag in any robots.txt, .htaccess rules or pages.

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