Google considers over 200 ranking factors while ranking websites on SERP. But since 2014, Google has made it mandatory for websites to have SSL certificates to be considered for SERP rankings. One of the main reasons for using SSL certificates as a ranking factor as most websites which lack encryption mechanisms such as SSL are more vulnerable to cyber security threats. Thus, SSL/TLS certificate have a dual role to play by proving security to your data and offering an advantage by boosting your SERP ratings.
What Exactly is SSL/TLS?
SSL/ TLS certificate comprises of a small cluster of data files which are bound digitally using a cryptographic key and holds critical information regarding your organization including its name, location, domain ownership etc. Thus, it helps to secure the exchange of data between the user and your website by informing the users if they are using a genuine website. Besides, it also helps in boosting your customers’ confidence in your website and helps in safeguarding sensitive information while conducting online payment and other associated monetary information.
Over the last few years, the number of companies using SSL has increased drastically which has given rise to a wider range of SSL certificates. There are different types of SSL certificates which may be purchased from a trusted Certificate Authority which are as follows:
Types of SSL Certificates
Extended Validation Certificates (EV) SSL
This is one of the most expensive SSL certificates and once its installed, it displays the padlock, HTTPS, business name, country on the browser address bar. By displaying the website owner’s information in the address bar, it will help in differentiating your site from malicious sites. However, it requires the website owner to undergo a standardized identity verification process to confirm if they are legally authorized to have exclusive rights over their domain.
OV SSL Certificates
Organization Validation or OV Certificate are used for encrypting sensitive information of the users during transactions. They provide high validity and assurance like the EV SSL certificates and they are useful for commercial and public facing websites who want their customer information to remain confidential. There is an elaborate verification process required for obtaining this type of certificate. It contains business validation process that requires verification of business-related proofs and third-party database verification.
Domain Validated Certificates
A DV or Domain Validated Certificate provides basic assurance with strong encryption capabilities more suited to informational websites or blogs. There is minimal verification process required for this type of certificate as the website owner just needs to respond to a phone or email for validation. It’s faster and cheaper to obtain DV certificate but the browser will only display padlock and HTTPS without the business name.
Wildcard SSL certificates
Wildcard SSL certificate is mainly used for securing a base domain along with unlimited subdomains. It’s much cheaper to purchase wildcard SSL certificates than buying many single domain certificates. There are both OV and DV wildcard certificates that are available for purchase and they usually come with the asterisk symbol which represents a valid subdomain with the same base domain like “*.domain.com“.
There are also additional types of SSL certificates right from the multi domain ones that allow you to secure upto 100 different domain names and subdomains through a single certificate (depending upon provider). UCC or Unified Communications Certificate are also a type of multi domain SSL certificate.
The Effects of SSL Certificate on Search Engine Rankings
Improve Search Engine Rankings
A secure website with digital certificate will always have an advantage when compared to other websites that lack security and encryption with the key SEO factors remaining the same. However, it may be difficult to exactly measure the impact of SSL certificates on your search engine rankings. For example – It is difficult to compare SSL certificate’s impact to websites in a similar niche that may have more robust backlinks.
This means an SSL certificate alone cannot guarantee higher rankings on SERP unless other search engine ranking factors are also considered. But certainly, it can give the much-needed boost to compete with other powerful websites.
Boosts User Experience
There is no doubt that SSL/TLS certificate can be valuable for providing a better experience to your end users. Most of the Internet browsers display visual warnings to unsecured websites without having an SSL certificate and users are less likely to stay on such websites. Search engines such as Google also make observations of such user behaviour who are likely to spend less time on such websites and tend to leave your website quickly.
This can result in low search engine rankings for your website. On the other hand, having an SSL certificate boost trust and confidence of your customers and gives you better business opportunities.
Websites that use digital certificate can provide a safe and secure online experience to its users. This can help in improving site traffic as well as customer engagement and conversion rates. The very fact that Google rewards SSL certified websites with a search engine boost shows the growing importance of online security.
Get A Competitive Edge for Your Business
Companies that use SSL/TLS certificate are likely to get long term results for their business by following such best practices. In today’s scenario, only less than 1% of the are known to be secure but 40% of Google’s on Page one organic listings feature HTTPS site. With this, Google is actively encouraging website owners to migrate to secure sites by assigning greater weightage to boosting rankings of websites which are HTTPS. Thus, if your website is at par with your competitor’s website in terms of its speed, freshness of content, title tags but they have HTTPS, then it is quite likely that their site may be ranked higher than yours. So, you need to keep in mind that websites with HTTPS also follow some of the best practices and if you want to succeed then you need to follow them as well.
Increased Conversion Rates
Most users are much likely to trust websites that are more secure and that follow the best industry practices. As per GlobalSign survey, 84% of the users would terminate making a purchase using an insecure connection as the biggest concern for them is misuse of their personal information. Thus, SSL/TLS certificates can assist in turning your prospects into customers by giving them peace of mind while shopping on your site in a safe and secure manner.
SSL certificates can help you in building safe and secure websites for your customers while building a lasting relationship with them. If websites use HTTP, then the browser will send out plain text as information to the webserver. On the other hand, websites with HTTPS will have web traffic encrypted which is useful for gathering sensitive information about your customers.
Google is also providing incentives to websites which have SSL installed and can help in improving your search rankings. Thus, companies that wish to gain better online visibility, achieve higher rankings and build their brand must seriously consider using the digital certificate as an option.
Depending on the needs and requirements of your business, you can choose from different types of digital certificates which we have discussed above. It is necessary for today’s businesses survival amidst tough global competition as they can provide greater exposure to your business by attracting quality traffic to your website.