What is HTTPS and why is it important?

When we last spoke to the Google Search Quality team, one of the top five items they recommended was HTTPS / SSL for small business websites. Shopping sites, online bank sites, or any site where you need to login and either make payment or store sensitive information have long used SSL – but why are Google now recommending that all sites use it? In a nutshell, Google are trying to encourage a more secure online experience so they have announced that SSL is now be a ranking factor in their algorithm – so all business owners looking at SEO need to pay attention to this.

Right now, SSL is not a highly weighted factor in search engine rankings but as with anything Google announce about their ranking algorithm (and they don’t announce much!) it is absolutely something to pay attention to. Adding SSL to your website is not going to boost you up the ranking results for your chosen keywords, but we feel it is likely that SSL will become a critical requirement for all websites in the near future.

It isn’t difficult to do and SSL certificates are readily available from almost all hosting providers. Our recommendation is to implement this soon before it becomes a critical ranking factor. Contact your web host for more details or drop us a line to see how we can help.

When you do implement SSL certificates, please ensure that you have the following all set in WMT:

  • http://domain.suffix
  • http://www.domain.suffix
  • https://domain.suffix
  • https://www.domain.suffix

Otherwise you may experience the strange problem one of our clients experienced with disappearing links!

If you want to read more from Google on this have a look at their Webmaster Central post.

What is HTTPS? HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure), is a secure version of HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) which is secured using an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. When a website uses an SSL certificate, its address will start with https:// instead of http:// and web browsers such as Google Chrome and Firefox will display a green padlock icon to show that communication between your browser and the web site is secured.