SSL has been getting quite a bit of attention in the past few months, mostly because Google announced doing two things: use HTTPS as a ranking signal and stop supporting SHA-1 SSL certificates. We ran an article early October on Google’s wish to build a secure internet and how Chrome will give out warnings when “non Google standard” SSL certificates are being used.
This article focuses on the little push websites get when using an SSL certificate.
HTTPS & Google Ranking Boost
August 6th 2014, Google revealed that websites that use an SSL certificate will gain a light ranking boost. Although Google said it would affect fewer than 1% of global queries, nothing says they won’t eventually push that percentage higher. This is only the second time that Google reveals an element of their ranking algorithm. The other official data we have in regards to ranking, is that they consider website loading speeds.
Should You Obtain an SSL Certificate?
Obviously, I will say “yes” to that question, because Funio provides SSL certificates (with an automatic installation feature when your website is hosted with us). However, if I push the sales pitch aside for a minute, I will answer this: if you don’t need one, don’t get one. There’s a bunch of things you should do before getting an SSL certificate to boost your ranking.
To know if you need an SSL certificate, think about this: if you have a login page or any type of form that requires people to enter personal information, you should consider obtaining an SSL certificate. Not for your ranking, but for everyone’s security. Ranking will just be a bonus.
Recommendations If You Are Going HTTPS
If you decide to hop into the secured website wagon, here are Google’s basic recommendations:
- 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
- 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.
Points 1 and 2 can be handled when purchasing your SSL certificate. If you were wondering, Funio offers SHA-256, 2048-bit key certificates for single (yourdomain.com & www.yourdomain.com) and wildcard (*.yourdomain.com) domains.
Points 3 to 7 are website programming related. Check with your webmaster and make sure that the site uses relative URLs for website components. If you store content on a subdomain, make sure that’s secured as well (making a wildcard SSL quite useful in those cases). All elements that are linked on your site should basically be HTTPS.
There are many other things you can look into in regards to implementing SSL on your website. Here are some of the top resources I found that might help the curious and tech heads to better understand the history and technical details:
- HTTPS as a ranking signal – official Google post
- HTTPS as a ranking factor – how to handle it – searchmetrics SEO Blog
- Explainer: How Google’s New SSL / HTTPS Ranking Factor Works – Search Engine Land