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Google has today announced a ranking boost for sites using HTTPS / SSL security. At the moment, Google have stated it’s a small boost affecting around 1% of global queries but may decide to strengthen it to encourage all website owners to move to securely hosted websites to “keep everyone safe on the web”

 

Google have also provided some tips to help you get started:

 

  • Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate
  • Use 2048-bit key certificates
  • Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
  • Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains
  • Check out our Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address
  • Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
  • Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag.

If your website is already serving on HTTPS, you can test its security level and configuration with the Qualys Lab tool. If you are concerned about TLS and your site’s performance, have a look at Is TLS fast yet?. And of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to post in our Webmaster Help Forums.

 

Update:

I’ve been asked a few questions about this so thought it would be a good idea to add them here:

 

1. Will SSL slow my site down.

Probably yes but we’re likely talking milliseconds and it’s likely you have other factors on your site that could be improved to increase speed. Run your site through Google’s Page Speed Insights tool to learn how to increase your site speed.

 

2. Will SSL have a negative affect on SEO?

Not if it’s done correctly. Here are some tips (there’s more from Google here):

 

  • Make sure ALL of your content is loaded over SSL to avoid warnings to visitors
  • Edit your HTACCESS file to 301 redirect non HTTPS traffic to the HTTPS site.
  • Use relative internal links or ensure all internal links start with HTTPS.
  • Check your web pages for SSL warnings.

 

3. Why will Google give SSL sites a ranking boost? It has nothing to do with my content.

Googles objective is to provide the best results for search queries. This isn’t limited to content. A secure site is regarded as more trustworthy than an unsecured website and as such represents a better option for search engine users and as a result, Google are giving SSL secured sites favourable treatment.

 

4. Should I do this now?

Generally speaking yes. It’s only going to become more ‘normal’ as time goes by. Also, consider that it is a small ranking benefit at the moment and if you have bigger issues then it’s worth taking care of them first.  We should also be keeping this in perspective: There are hundreds of ranking factors and 100’s that are stronger than this update so whilst it’s worth doing, it’s not the be all and end all.

 

If you are unsure how to make the switch, contact your web development team / website hosting company. To ensure you make the change whilst avoiding any issues with the indexing / ranking of your site by search engines, please see this post.

Brett Dixon
Brett Dixon
Brett is a Director and Co-Founder of DP Online Marketing and is Google Qualified in Search, Display, Mobile, Shopping, Video and Analytics. Brett regularly writes for industry magazines and also a guest lecturer at Lincoln University. He is also a member of the prestigious Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM.)
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