SSL is a technology that deals with the encryption of data, securing it as it passes through the web. This protection includes all data, including credit cards, email addresses and other information that could be accessed through the internet.
A Certificate Authority is usually responsible for issuing SSL Certificates, and authenticating the identity of the purchaser. It both helps in protecting your data and assuring users that their data remains confidential and cannot be accessed by hackers.
What Is SSL In SEO?
SSL (secure sockets layer), provides a safe connection between the server and the browser. Its meaning is also the same in SEO, but it is included as one of the factors responsible for boosting the rankings of a webpage or website on search engines especially Google
What Does SSL Mean For My SEO Rankings?
An SSL Certificate has a direct and indirect impact on the overall SEO rankings of a website or web page. When the URL of a website contains HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) there’s an SSL certificate present to secure the site.
Google made an announcement recently that websites making use of the HTTPS protocol will rank better. Aside from this, there are indirect benefits when a site is secure which could also help in improving your rankings.
When users notice the “Not Secure” flag on a website, they leave immediately which increases the bounce rate of that website, leading to a negative impact on rankings.
But when websites provide security for their users, users tend to stay on the site much longer because they trust the site. In summary, SSL is the standard defining the way connections are encrypted through HTTPS.
SSL: How Does it Work?
Typically, the name, address, country, state, city of your company, and your domain name will be included in your SSL Certificate. The certificate’s expiration date will also be included as well as details of the authority issuing you the certificate.
When a browser is connected to a secure site, the SSL certificate of that website will be retrieved and checked to ensure: the expiration date has not passed, the authority issuing the certificate is reliable, and to verify that the certificate is being used by the website it was issued to.
If any of these checks fails, the browser will immediately show a warning signal to the end-user to inform them that the website is not secure.
Differences Between HTTPS and HTTP
So many criteria differentiate the HTTPS and the HTTP. From my view, the three major differences between the two are based on:
- Scheme of the URL
- Network Layers
Scheme of the URL
HTTP URLs start with http:// and makes use of port 80 by default, while HTTPS URLs start with https:// and makes use of port 443 by default
HTTP is not secure and attackers can easily find their way in, allowing them to have access to very sensitive information. HTTPS, on the other hand, is secure against attacks.
HTTP functions at the TCP/IP model’s highest layer which is referred to as the Application layer. However, SSL security protocol functions at a lower layer of the TCP/IP model; but before transmission, it encrypts an HTTP message and then decrypts it when it arrives. Therefore, HTTPS is not a different protocol but prefers using the ordinary HTTP to an SSL connection that is encrypted.
Google and HTTPS
It’s not surprising that Google favors websites that are certified, secure and trusted. Users will be assured that the site will encrypt their private information.
Recently, Google started using HTTPS as a ranking signal. Results from data analysis revealed that HTTPS links have a higher chance of ranking compared to HTTP links, so any website that switches to HTTPS will get more benefit, whether there’s confidential information or not.
Data sent utilizing the HTTPS is protected through TLS (the transport layer security protocol). The TLS offers protection in three ways: Data integrity to prevent modification of data, Data Encryption to help in securing your data and authentication to verify that users are working with the right website.
These security aspects are the reasons behind Google giving HTTPS sites the upper hand when it comes to ranking; however, this benefit does not extend to the quality of the content provided by the website.
The SEO Benefits of Using HTTPS
Asides the added security HTTPS websites offer, there are other SEO benefits involved. The most obvious benefit is the increase in rankings, at least Google has confirmed this already.
Security and privacy will be added to an HTTPS website and its SEO goals via website verification, securing the site for visitors and ensuring all communication are encrypted; this, in turn, safeguards things like browsing history and credit card numbers.
HTTP’s SEO Concerns
Generally, there’s really nothing to worry about when switching from HTTP to HTTPS. However, there are some things you need to put in place before making the switch to prevent an adverse effect on your traffic. First, you must notify Google that the switch has been made (HTTP to HTTPS).
When switching to HTTPS, Google advises you do the following:
- Make use of 2048-bit key certificates
- Decide on what type of certificate you need (multi-domain, wildcard or single)
- Allow the pages of your site to be indexed in search engines
- For robots.txt, the noindex meta tag should not be used.
- For other domains, use protocol relative URLs
- Track your switching to HTTPS with care using the Webmaster Tools of Google and any analytics software you desire.
Switching from HTTP to HTTPS helps your website rank better on Google. Asides the SEO benefits that come with the https, it offers more security for the website. This security aspect is the most important benefit of making the switch. If you own a website that operates on HTTPS, you can test its level of security and configuration using the Qualys Lab tool of Google.