Securing better search rankings with SSL

As you may know, the criteria for achieving a high Google search ranking is always changing. Since January 2017, your website’s security has been a much larger factor in how you perform in the search results, so we thought it was time we took a look at website security, or SSL.

Image of 3 keys printed with circuit boards - SSLWhat is SSL?

Secure Sockets Layer is a security protocol that creates a virtual tunnel between your computer and the website that you’re visiting. When a website has an SSL certificate, any data that you send to it is encrypted on your computer and isn’t decrypted until it reaches the website at the other end. If anyone intercepts your data on its journey across cyberspace, they won’t be able to read it.

SSL also provides authentication, guaranteeing that the website you’re visiting genuinely belongs to the company you expect it to – it’s easy to create a website that looks like Amazon but only the real Amazon can get a security certificate to prove it.

How do I know if a website’s secure?

There are two easy ways to spot if a website’s secure:

  • The URL in the address bar starts with ‘https’ (for ‘secure’), rather than just ‘http’.
  • Your browser will usually display a padlock icon next to the address bar

Image of browser header for SSL site showing https and padlock symbol in address bar

What changed?

In the past, unless your website was gathering any kind of personal information (such as financial or medical details), SSL was an unnecessary expense. Recently, however, Google has been pushing for all sites to use SSL as part of its drive to improve the quality and security of the web.

  • In 2014, Google started incorporating site security into its rankings, giving a boost to those sites with SSL. It has already begun strengthening this boost for secure sites.
  • Since January 2017, Google has been highlighting sites which collect personal information but which do not have an SSL certificate. Over time, it is expected that this will extend to all non-https websites. This will naturally start to discourage potential visitors from clicking on your website where secure alternatives are available.

What should I do?

Is your website already secure? If not, it’s definitely time to act! As time goes on, the impact on non-secure sites will get worse and it’s likely that before too long Google will start blocking access to your site or requiring users to complete an additional step to get to your website if it doesn’t have an SSL certificate.

At Mass Media Design, we appreciate the importance of keeping your website secure. We can help ensure that you stay protected…and protect your Google search ranking too. Why not give us a call on 0118 380 0131 to talk about whether an SSL certificate is the right thing for your site and how to set about getting a certificate – we’d be very happy to chat!