SSL Certificates: The Ultimate Guide To Understand the Effect on SEO and Google Rankings

Google considers more than 200 search engine ranking aspects before ranking a particular website in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Irrespective of this, not all SEO professionals know about its algorithms. Google has cautiously protected this data from preventing SEO manipulation and search engine ranking overtaking with bigoted methods.

In total, most of the information is generic and ambiguous, such as using relevant keywords and creating top-notch content. However, in 2014, Google took a precise step. In simple words, Google mentions if you follow the guidelines, you will boost your SERPs ranking.

It stated that websites with SSL Certificates, i.e., HTTPS, would get an extra benefit in the SERPs. So, Google said that in practicality, if there are two similar web pages, with everything equivalent, the website with an SSL certificate will have a better benefit than the one that lacks an SSL certificate.

SSL certificates have tons of benefits of how SSL positively impacts a website and boost its ranking. Here is an in-depth study of how SSL certificates affect SEO and Google ranking, but first, you should know what SSL and HTTPS are:

HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) is the safe variant of HTTP, a practice over which information travels between a website and a browser. SSL certification offers the additional “S” to your HTTP. The S denotes “Secure”, meaning all exchanges between the browser and website are encrypted.

Reasons why SSL Certificates are essential for SEO:

1. As Google made it important

This is the first reason why you should take the game up and install an SSL certificate on your website. Google has made a statement that SSL certificates work as a ranking aspect. 

Google motivates all the sites to transform from HTTP to HTTPS to secure website connections and users’ in-transit data. So, Google made SSL a ranking aspect for its SERPs. Though it is given slightly less weightage than top-quality content, it will become a major ranking aspect in the coming time.

Google took the initiative to share its test results which displayed that HTTPS accreditation had better results regarding SERP ranking and search relevancy on search engines.

According to the Backlinko analysis, the SSL signal is reasonably linked to better ranking.

2. It impacts your bounce rates and makes visitors spend more time on your website:

Without SSL certification on your website, your visitors will get an alert on their address bar stating “not Safe” with a big X (cross) mark depicting the pages lacking HTTPS.

Depending on the website you own, your visitors may leave your website. If your website demands email verification or payment, the absence of an SSL certificate will mean that your visitors cannot trust your website and switch to another website.

The time spent on the website and bounce rates ultimately impact your SEO. The longer time spent on a website and reduced bounce rates are correlated to ranking. Even if your website receives a high click-through level but offers a better bounce rate, it means your website fails to provide users with relevant information.

A better bounce rate enhances the chance that search engines will generate varied results for users- bringing up your competitor’s websites with a reduced bounce rate. It stands true for blogging websites and ecommerce stores. High click-through charges mean that the users are getting the content they need, but they may not have enough trust to continue with your website without the SSL certification.

3. It is sufficient to help you rank higher than your competitor:

With more than 200 aspects to consider in Google’s ranking algorithm, SSL certification may not seem to be a great deal. But, a few years ago, AHREFs, an SEO tool, analyzed the best 10,000 websites to compare HTTP and HTTPS and see how efficiently HTTPS impacted their SERP outcomes. Only one in 10 websites got their SSL Certification installed appropriately, while over 60% have no HTTPS installed at all. Today, the number is more than 50%. 

So, SSL certification is a big chance for website vendors, SEO professionals, and developers to get ahead of their competitor websites. The simple reason being:

  • SSL certificates are affordable, simple to install, and convenient.
  • It is surely a Google ranking algorithm factor.
  • Most competitors don’t have it to be ahead in the race.

When your site targets competitive keywords, having an SSL certificate makes a lot of sense, even if it adds a small improvement. And, if you rank on Google’s first page, you will be amazed to know that the HTTPS outcomes are linked with a higher ranking.

Other ways in which SSL affects your Google ranking

Apart from the direct result of being ranked below the other sites, there are some other ways in which SSL impacts your website’s SEO.

  • Firstly, Google Analytics has limitations. Google denies referral data in Analytics if your website is not HTTPS, which causes poor analysis of your traffic.
  • So, if you get good traffic from a source, you will never detect that source as the traffic will be visible as direct traffic when your site uses HTTP rather than HTTPS.
  • But, if the website has an SSL certificate, you can view all the traffic sources in Google Analytics.
  • If your website is not on HTTPS, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and other browsers, display a “Not Secure” label before the address, giving the users an insecure feeling.
  • If the visitors don’t see this label, they feel something is not right with the website, and they may instantly leave your website.
  • This boosts the bounce rate, which works as another ranking factor in Google algorithms. 
  • Also, if your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, cybercriminals may use it for their benefit. They can cause MiTM attacks on your site users and steal their details. Even simple data such as email and contact numbers can make them target your site traffic, and they may start visiting your competitor’s website.
  • An SSL Certificate helps you create a better and stronger brand image, and if you build your brand image once, it will bring you direct traffic and SERP traffic.

These are some ways in which SSL affects the Google ranking of your website. Install an SSL certificate if you want to accomplish these things for your website.

Implement SSL Certificate wisely

According to the AHREFS report, not all certifications are installed properly. And a common mistake is a lack of using 301 Redirects, which is essential to get correctly.

However, if the setup is not done right in the first stance, then don’t feel bad. Usually, the problems are simple to recognize. You can use SSL redirect scanning methods to identify problems with SSL installation.  Here is a small migration guide from HTTP to HTTPS and some basic details that you need to be alert about:

  • Get an SSL Certificate from a reliable and reputable platform.
  • Check twice to make sure that your WordPress host and CDN provide aid for HTTP/2. This helps with the performance.
  • Keep some time reserved for the migration as it is not 5 minutes work.
  • Re-check to ensure that external services and scripts used on the website also have the HTTPS version.
  • Depending on the size of your website, it may take some time for Google to re-crawl all your HTTPS pages. You may notice a difference in your website traffic and ranking for that phase.
  • Keep local citations in mind.

Certificates to choose from

There are many types of SSL certificates to choose from:

Single Domain SSL certificates: They secure the chosen domain or subdomain and are available at varying validation levels, DV, OV and EV.

Wildcard SSL Certificates: They secure the base domain and an unlimited number of first-level subdomains with one certificate. Wildcard SSL Certificates are affordable and can be used by ecommerce platforms and public-facing websites.

Multi-domain SSL Certificates: They can secure several domains and subdomains up to 250 FQDNs (Fully Qualified Domain Names). However, the number of FQDNs secured varies from provider to provider. 

There are others, such as Multi-domain wildcard certificates, UCC certificates etc.

It is important to know about all types of SSL certificates to choose the right one for your website.

The Best SSL Certificate

Higher trust = Higher conversion

Trust is a major factor when users choose to shop online. And, apart from focusing on other trust factors, one of them is a secure site, especially when details and payment information are involved. If you can resolve the issue by showing how safe your website is, you can handle that factor easily. For this, the ability to present the tiny green lock on your website the whole time is important.

Website Seals
Website Seals

Everyone knows that SSL certificates help you get the trust seals which helps with conversion. It is important to run several tests to know how trust seals affect it. For instance, an unrecognized logo can harm conversion. It is also important to note that your SSL certificate provider should not be the same as other security services. For instance, Google Trusted Store is a trust aspect like BBB rating- showcasing that these shopping processes will have a similar effect on user behavior as showing the SSL certificate on your website if the provider is not known.

Level of Encryption
Level of Encryption

However, it can be said that you can go for cheaper SSL options, especially if your website doesn’t involve any threat to your identity or financial information. They provide the same level of encryption as their more expensive counterparts. 

The badges of the SSL certificates build trust and make people believe that you have a secure website. Hence, when showing the logo on your website, always choose a reliable and reputable brand to get the best positive impact.

Tips to get and execute HTTPS procedure

There are various web servers and CMS, and everyone is configured separately, but the basic concept is pretty much the same for all.

  1. Get the certificate and major files and put them in the server’s permission-restricted path.
  2. Edit the major server or singular vhost configs to allow the SSL engine and mention the major file and certificate paths.
  3. Re-commence web server program to stimulate the changes.
  4. Align the CMS, if needed, to use the HTTPS plan and perform the find/ replace function on your database to change your HTTP plan address to HTTPS.
  5. Run the 301 redirect rules to request an HTTP page to go the same page through the HTTPS plan in its address.
  6. Craft a Google Search Console property for your site with an HTTPS plan and align the Google Analytics to include the new website address.
  7. Test your pages.

And, voila! You’re done!

SSL as the Web Future

When starting its HTTPS program, Google announced loud that SSL and encryption are the future of the online world. Hence, the crawlers were instructed to default check for the HTTPS pages. So, if you have an HTTP and HTTPS page without 201 redirections, a crawl will be attempted, and it will offer an HTTPS page under specific situations:

  • The page has no unsafe dependencies
  • The page is unblocked from crawling by robots.txt.
  • The page never redirects users to an unsafe HTTP Page.
  • The page has no internal HTTP URL links.
  • The server has a valid SSL certificate.

Some may come up with an idea to leave crawling, indexation, and page ranking on Google. But, Google already automates several things, which may result in crappy outcomes like automatic page title rewriting and meta description snippets that may confuse the users. Hence, it is advisable to do all you can manage on your own and leave very little for Google to handle. It will give the best results for Google users and your website.

Wrap Up

If you want to survive in the digital world, you should have an SSL-certified website. Choose a suitable SSL certificate for your website which is fully encrypted. SSL certificates do a lot more than offer safety to your website. If you haven’t got SSL yet, it is time to keep your website secure and boost your Google Ranking. SSL certification is the current standard as the responsive design was some time ago. So, understand the value of an SSL certificate and buy it now.

Marie Foster
Marie Foster
Marie Foster is a reporter based in UK. Marie has also worked as a columnist for the various news sites.


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