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is https a ranking signal?

Do You Need HTTPS To Rank Well In 2016?

15/11/2016

Google lived up to its promise made last year of trying to make websites more secure by adopting HTTPS on a wider level. As a step towards raising awareness among the web users as well as webmasters regarding online security, HTTPS was introduced by Google as a ‘lightweight search signal’. In addition to this, in order to make the web a safe place with privacy for the online users and secure server connections, webmasters were advised to get SSL certificates for their sites.

Google on moving to HTTPS

Moving to HTTPS with a trustworthy provider has become a norm for most webmasters, even though little expensive. That is because HTTPS has become a familiar search ranking point, along with getting a SSL certificate as well. With security being a major cause of concern for users and web owners, getting a SSL certification is a long-term strategy to protect data from being breached and is worth the cost.

What is SSL?

Secure socket layer or SSL is an encryption technology that helps data transfer from the browser of the user to the web server. With SSL, hackers cannot intercept the private data entered by users on web forms and other contact information. SSL functions by using public encryption key to scramble information and private encryption key to decrypt the information to prevent it from being read and misused.

Upon SSL certification websites relay secure data by adding https://in front of their URL in place of http://. This certification signifies that the user’s data is safe from being skimmed. Getting SSL certificates is thus important for ecommerce websites and companies that collect personal data.

Key considerations when getting a SSL certificate

Several things need to be considered by websites before choosing the right type of SSL certificate.

  • Using SSL certificates that are issued by trustworthy Certificate Authorities. This prevents middle men. Also, the authorities are bounded by legal regulations thus making them a trusted resource to verify the website.
  • Choosing from certificate types, such as single, multi domain and wildcard.
  • Using 301 redirects to point users and search engines to pages with HTTPS
  • Using URLs that are relative to protocols thereby preventing being served 404 pages.
  • Using web servers that support HTTP Strict Transport Security or HSTS.
  • Pages being tested using Qualys SSL/TLS

These are some of the steps to shift to HTTPS.

Setting up HTTPS

This process follows these steps-

  • Redirecting the server to instead of pointing to http, point to HTTPS.
  • Checking whether or not all internal links, like images, pages, CSS and Javascript are using https.
  • SSL to be set up for your CDN.
  • Make the website work faster by opting for Google’s SPDY networking protocol.

This setting helps make the website secure and improves SEO services too.

Webmaster’s reaction

Though some webmasters have a thing against the high cost of implementing SSL and do not feel the need for their sites, the general consensus is to move to SSL certificates to improve SEO boosting and provide users with secure environment and great performance.

Beyond the SEO value: security for business benefits

Apart from affecting the ranking factor of website, SSL reflects on the credibility of a web site and improves their reputation online.

With SSL becoming Google’s search ranking factor and being also considered a measure of web security, implementing it will speak volumes about the website's credibility and improve user experience and in turn the search ranking too.

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