Why SSL is Important to Google And to You
Over the past couple of years, Google has really stepped up its game regarding SSL certificates and its ability to identify whether a website has the requisite SSL in place. If you don’t have your SSL organized, then there are significant disadvantages to your website, especially if you collect customer data in any way or if you sell anything online. In this article we explore what an SSL certificate is, why it’s important and how to use an SSL checker to determine whether your website has the correct one.
What is an SSL certificate?
SSL stands for secure sockets layer and is the industry security standard technology used to establish and maintain a secure and encrypted link between the browser being used by your website visitor and the server where your website is stored. Once established, SSL ensures that any collected data that moves from browser to webserver is encrypted, meaning it remains private and secure. Your certificate will contain unique data for your company including name, a serial number (with expiration date) and your public cryptographic key. This key is used as part of the encryption and decryption process that occurs between browser and server, keeping your visitor’s data secure.
The importance of SSL for SEO
Google has pretty much admitted (a rarity for the big G) that having an SSL certificate can boost your organic search rankings. This makes sense give that Google wants to ensure it is offering the most relevant and most secure websites via its results pages. Aside from an actual “rankings” benefit, you can also benefit from SSL in your analytics data. Usually Google strips away referrer data when information is passed without SSL, but via HTTPS that referral data gets logged, giving you more meaningful analytics instead of the dreaded and often meaningless ‘Direct’ in your traffic reports. You should definitely ask your SEO agency to help you determine the status of your SSL certificate and its impact on your SEO campaigns and reporting.
The importance of SSL for security
Google has started making it very clear in the Chrome browser bar whether or not a site has an SSL certificate. One of Google’s main stated aims to provide not just relevant data to searchers, but also to keep them safe, as far as possible, from cyber-crime and the misuse of their personal data. By indicating whether a site has an SSL certificate, a user can quickly decide whether to trust a website with their information. A lack of an SSL certificate is a positive flag to a cybercriminal, displaying a crack in your network security when data is passed. Beyond these obvious hiccups, a valid SSL certificate significantly boost trust in your brand and your web offering amongst new and existing customers. If you can’t display an up to date SSL certificate you run the risk of losing potential leads and sales.
You should aim to use an online SSL checker tool to determine whether you have an existing, up to date certificate or not. Most web hosts offer an SSL solution; some hosting packages come complete with an SSL certificate; others charge extra. Either way, it isn’t a particularly difficult job but it is definitely an increasingly important box to tick, helping with SEO, brand trust, lead generation and sales.