In 2014, Google announced sites with an SSL certificate, will be given a boost in ranking. This meant moving a site from the insecure protocol of http:// to https:// – which ultimately secured your traffic. Things on the inter web have changed a lot since then. The adoption rate has been slow but steady. The top sites have already moved over and those that haven’t, are in the process.
SSL is the acronym for Secure Socket Layer, an encrypted protocol, between your computer and the server displaying the webpage visited. It keeps communications over the internet safe and secure. Nobody else can snoop in on the traffic and capture data transmitted. Which is primarily just free form text. Helpful when you’re paying for goods and have to hand over credit card details, but what if you don’t have an online shop?
Why Care About Your Sites Security?
The ranking factor was as little as 1% and in January 2017, things got even more interesting. If you don’t have a secure site, they’ll shame you into making sure you do. That’s a pretty good incentive actually, people hate being called out. Google’s PR is working and many have taken the leap into the security blanket.
Google Chrome and Firefox have already started displaying messages on sites that are not secure. Ones that are get the green light and users get safe browsing.
Verifying the authorship of a website is critical in terms of making sure the site you’re on, is not a clone. Yes, sites get cloned, hacked and send out spammy emails. All with the intention of directing traffic to a site that will steal from you.
Even if you don’t have a commercial site, it makes sense to take measures so this doesn’t happen to you. Encrypting the data between you and the server ring fences your risk.
Browsers will make it more pronounced in telling you whether the site is Not Secure or Secure, Google and Mozilla has pushed the ante a little further this year with it’s Chrome and Firefox updates.
SSL in Practice
Every site owner should be considering not if they should transition, but when they should move over to HTTPS.
There were many ways of obtaining an SSL certificate at a high premium. The monopoly behind them made buying one and making them work, a complex task for a small site owner. Thankfully, with the rise of community and publicly driven organisations like Let’s Encrypt, managing and installing an SSL couldn’t be simpler. Especially if your host manages everything for you.
Let’s Encrypt will only validate your domain. It’s what’s known as a DV (Domain Validation) certificate. Larger organisations and bigger commercial sites will require extra security. The most common ones are Extended Validation (EV) and Organisation Validation (OV). All are available at Atelier Hosting.
Most sites and blogs are going to be very well protected with a DV certificate, that will auto renew every 90 days.
Free SSL For Everyone
Atelier Hosting wants the same level of security it relies on, to be made available for everyone. We install, as standard and for free, Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates on every domain hosted with us, for every client. By managing the transition process of moving sites over from the open HTTP protocol to the more secure HTTPS one, you can be assured your site will always get a green light. Looking after the tasks associated with the transfer, like making sure you’re not losing traffic or your analytics data, is also very important.
The manoeuvre is quite tricky for existing sites as every link for media files and internal links, have to be changed to HTTPS. You run the risk of mixed media warnings otherwise which ultimately – invalidates the security you need.
If you aren’t hosted at Atelier Hosting, here’s some tips to look out for:
- Purchase the right certificate for your website.
- Install the certificate using your web host.
- Update the configuration of your website to point to HTTPS instead of HTTP.
- Redirect requests for the old HTTP website to the location of the HTTPS site.
- Use Google Search Console and add the various site links for every protocol, http://www, https://www., http://, https://.
- Update the sitemap location using HTTPS.
- Update Google Analytics with the new property.
- Test the conversion was successful.
When Does Your SSL Site Get Boosted By Google?
The adoption rate for SSL based sites globally, has increased massively and steadily since the announcement. Google knows which sites perform well, and which ones spend money on advertising. It won’t shoot itself in the foot by penalising good sites because they haven’t transitioned yet. It will keep pumping out updates, play the waiting game and use sheer human psychology to win over those who haven’t.
The current rate of adoption sits at around 30%. These are search results that have moved over. The search marketers and agencies have taken on the Google PR engine too. They are using the same language as Google in terms of rankings being boosted, as a result of SSL adoption. One third of search results are basically now preferred over non HTTPS sites by Google. That took around 24 months. In the next 12-18months, we expect that figure to be closer to 45% if not 50%.
Algorithmic updates are frequent and common at Google HQ. Their last one was on April 5th, 2017, did you catch that? Even Moz didn’t. Our gloves are pretty big and we want to make sure you get the benefit of our insight. Once the figures get high enough, ranking results based on HTTPS will be visible. Get ready for another major update in around 6 months and if you’re caught snoozing, you will lose. Get there early, and your site won’t suffer loss of traffic. More importantly, potential revenue you could use to leverage your business.