We’ve all heard how important it is to rank well with Google and how vital it is to take SEO seriously if you want your website to be a success, so what can you do to rank higher on Google’s search index?
Well, there are a few things that can be done to move up the rankings, but in this post I’ll be discussing a particular aspect of them – HTTPS. It’s only been introduced last year and so far has a minimal impact on your ranking, but its importance is growing.
Google is Using HTTPS in its Ranking Criteria
As of August 2014 Google released a post announcing that HTTPS is to be used as a ranking signal. As you’d expect, Google rate website security quite highly so it was no surprise that this was to become a part of their search ranking criteria.
Apart from ensuring that Google itself is secure they also wanted to ensure that the sites brought up in every Google search are safe too. In fact, many website owners followed this and started switching over to HTTPS.
The importance of offering a secure, encrypted connection for your site will grow as time goes by, as will the effect it has on Google’s search ranking algorithms.
What is HTTPS & Why Switch to it?
Website security is not only being given more coverage nowadays but it is also given more importance by users visiting your website. When someone enters their personal details on your site to fill in a contact form or make a purchase they want to be sure that they’re doing it over a secure connection.
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) does this by protecting your users’ data and ensuring that he or she is in fact communicating with the authorized owner of the site. The data is secured via TLS (Transport Layer Security) which, as mentioned in Google’s Webmasters Support, in turn provides three layers of protection.
These are encryption, data integrity and authentication. Encrypting the data being transferred is key to keeping it secure as it prevents any outsiders from seeing what your users are doing or stealing their personal information. Data Integrity ensures that any modifications made to the data while it’s being transferred are detected, and lastly, authentication is what verifies that the website in question is the one that the server is in fact meant to be talking to.
Other Benefits & Possible Challenges
While switching to HTTPS will obviously help secure your site with the three layers of protection above there are other benefits too. For instance, it will help your website’s SEO by providing you with more referrer data, and as mentioned above it will provide a ranking boost for Google searches (even if it is minimal for the time being).
Having said that, one must not overlook the challenges that come with such a change. You must always take into consideration the risk of mistakes happening during the switch over to HTTPS. Even though these rarely occur and the fix is usually rather simple it’s always important to take extra caution.
Besides that, if your site is already on the slow side (if it is, consider using these best practices) the added communication that comes with HTTPS might cause your site to slow down further. Lastly, it can cost website owners some money for SSL certificates, unless they find a free alternative to use, but either way it will be worth it.
For more information about HTTPS for WordPress, how to implement it, as well as the good and bad practices for HTTPS for WordPress you can read this post from WordPress.org.
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