Two acronyms in a six-word title! If you are reading this article, you are either curious or a connoisseur! As you can imagine, in this article I’ll address the interests in installing a HTTPS security certificate on your website from a SEO perspective. To summarize: the impact of HTTPS on SEO. According to the rumors of some experts and SEO agencies, HTTPS will have a more and more important impact on a page’s position on Google’s search results. We’ll see what an SSL certificate is, as well as its potential to impact SEO and when you should consider setting one up.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is the encrypted version of HTTP. The purpose behind this security protocol is to make URLs dynamic to prevent hackers from retrieving data from your site (primarily via the link made between the browser and the server of your site). Well, this may sound a bit confusing but what we must remember is that the certificate protects the data you collect through your website (emails, payment information, password etc.) and guarantees data integrity to Google. To find out immediately if a website uses a security certificate, just look at the URL and identify the padlock and “https“.
A Site that uses a security certificate:
Site that does not use a security certificate:
Before, HTTPS was mainly used by online commerce sites, banks and other sites that were hosting users’ sensitive data. They were thus equipped with an SSL security certificate. With the growing number of personal data collected by websites worldwide, Google encourages more and more website owners to be equipped with an SSL certificate for update their site to HTTPS. Of course, the best reason that motivates site owners to do what Google asks is to say they will better position them in search results.
What is the impact HTTPS has on SEO positioning?
Despite Google’s speech stating that HTTPS sites are better positioned than others, there are in fact many differences between findings of the SEO community about the real impact of HTTPS on the positioning on search engines. Since Google’s announcement in August 2014, more and more sites converted to HTTPS as the cost for the year certificate was quite low and therefore they were willing to pay for the change to improve their SEO.
I want to remind you that there are over 200 SEO criteria that influence the positioning of a page in search engines. HTTPS is therefore a single criterion among 200 whose weight is quite relative. Therefore, I advise you to work on known SEO criteria (link acquisition strategy, content creation, optimizing your title tags, meta titles and meta descriptions etc.) that will bring you free results, rather than to stake everything on the paid conversion to HTTPS.
When should you opt for https
If your site already works very well and you are satisfied with your SEO positions, I do not recommend changing your URLs only to switch your site over HTTPS, as changing URLs is not always a sensible thing for SEO strategy.
However, if you create a new website from scratch or if you do a complete overhaul that will in any case lead to you changing your URLs, I recommend you take advantage and change your site to HTTPS, for you have nothing to lose.
The other scenario where I encourage you to install an SSL security certificate on your site is if you plan to host your visitors’ sensitive data (personal information, passwords, etc.) or if you set up a payment system. Here it is important to take precautions by encrypting the data to reassure your visitors and show Google that your site is safe.
No one has yet to demonstrate the actual impact of HTTPS on the SEO of a website. We see the trend of installing this protocol being confirmed over time but it should not be considered a sufficient criterion for SEO modifying of existing URLs. If you have questions or would like to the help of a team of SEO experts, feel free to contact us for to help you in your SEO strategy or redesigning of your website.
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