How SSL can boost SEO rankings

Here on the blog we’ve talked a lot about the many benefits of having an SSL installed on your site. This blog is no exception. We’ll be focusing on the positive effect an SSL can have on one of the most pivotal areas of Internet marketing today: SEO. 

Short for search engine optimization, SEO refers to tactics and techniques that help to boost your website’s rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs) and ultimately get more quality traffic on your site. SEO as a practice is constantly evolving, and search engines have various ranking signals and factors that are considered when deciding whether or not a website should be indexed, and if so, how high it should rank. The quality of a website could mean the difference between page 1 and page 57 of the SERPs. Most people likely associate SEO with keywords, but there is a lot more to it than that. 

Like having SSL, for one.

Since 2014, Google has been pushing for “HTTPS everywhere” across the web. Essentially, meaning that every website and application should have a secure, encrypted connection. To really drive this home, they made having an SSL certificate a ranking signal. This means that it became one of the many factors Google looks at when it comes to ranking a website in its search engine. 

What exactly does this mean in practice?

Google has said in the past that if two competitor websites are equal in terms of quality signals (for example, fast site speed and good content) but one site has an SSL certificate and the other doesn’t, the website that has an SSL certificate will likely have the edge when it comes to higher search engine rankings. Essentially, an SSL certificate can serve as a tie-breaking factor in this scenario. 

So, it’s clear that SSL certainly helps when it comes to a website ranking higher in search engines. But we don’t want to overstate the effect SSL has on SEO either.

SSL alone won’t help you rank higher

Google’s algorithm often seems to work in mysterious ways, and there are a whole host of known ranking factors (200 of them, in fact) that work in tandem with each other to help a website rank higher. You can’t just pick one and hope that by implementing it you’ll be number one in Google. It doesn’t work like that. So by just having an SSL your rankings won’t improve exponentially (though it will help). Having HTTPs enabled on your site is just one of many SEO best practices. Apart from being its own ranking signal, it may help strengthen your ranking potential in the following areas:

Website security: Because poor website security can put you at risk from hackers, it can be cause for getting blacklisted by Google. It probably goes without saying that this is not good for SEO. Website security can encapsulate a lot of things (as we previously discussed in this blog post), but SSL is one of them. By having SSL enabled, you are ensuring that your users have an encrypted connection to your site, leaving them safe in the knowledge that their browsing is a  secure one. 

User experience: Many elements contribute to good user experience on a website, from page speed to intuitive navigation. SSL, arguably, can also contribute to creating a positive user experience. After all, what’s a better experience than knowing your connection is secure

User trust: One of Google’s big ranking factors that was rolled out in 2018 is something known as E-A-T — expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. This puts on emphasis on high-quality, accurate content that’s relevant to users. When it comes to “trustworthiness”, that’s where SSL comes in. Having a HTTPs connection lets users know that your site is trustworthy, pure and simple. This has only been emphasized by how Google Chrome now marks any site without SSL as “not secure”.

Beyond SSL and generally optimizing your website’s back-end, if you want to improve your site’s SEO, you should also consider your site’s on-page SEO factors, such as producing good quality content, using title tags and implementing proper URL structures.

Wrap up

Having an SSL certificate is just one element of SEO rankings, but it’s a doozy. While it may not shoot your website to the top of page 1 on Google, not having one could certainly impinge on how high your website ranks. Beyond SEO, Google Chrome’s warning about the security of sites without SSL will certainly have a negative impact on the amount of traffic you get on your site.
So, as we’ve said time and time again, having an SSL on your site really is essential. Secure your site today with one of our affordable SSL certificates.

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