SSL and SEO: How Having a Secure Website Impacts Search Traffic

SSL and SEO.


Secure website and unsecured website.

Google is cracking down hard on unsecure websites, telling users when a website does not have a SSL certificate.

Essentially the biggest player on the web is telling Chrome users, which is the most used browser on the web as of September 2018, that they’re going to an unsecure website and that they should consider an alternative website from their search result.

Marketers and business owners hear this and immediately think about their website experience with potential customers.

We hear a lot of questions about HTTPS, SSL certificates, and the ramifications of search traffic.

So we’re going to set the record straight in this post.

Is this a big deal? Yes.

Let’s walk you through the basics, explain how you can help keep your website in the good graces of Google, and how it can actually help you rank higher in search results than your competitors.

What Is an SSL Certificate?

We’re talking about Secure Sockets Layer, a digital authentication for your website that has the ability to encrypt sensitive information sent to your server.

It’s an important part to any existing website or any upcoming website development launch.

You may ask why should I have one if I’m not an ecommerce business and collecting credit card information.

Privacy is privacy in the eyes of Google, and security is their top priority.

Think of an SSL certificate like a padlock.

An SSL will bind your domain name, company name, and location — thus keeping potential hackers from stealing any private information.

Google Chrome will see the SSL certificate, and show browser users this little padlock icon in the URL bar:

ssl seo secure website search results chrome icon

This will also change your transfer protocol from HTTP to HTTPS.

Boom! That’s what Google is looking for and won’t tell potential website visitors to reconsider visiting your site.

What Is the Secure Website Impact on Search Traffic?

We already touched on if your site doesn’t have an SSL certificate, a web visitor would see a warning similar to this:

chrome no ssl certificate warning

If they click “Back to Safety” they never hit your website, and you never get credit for that traffic.

But there’s more bad news when it comes to search results…

In 2014, Google announced that having HTTPS in front of your domain would be a ranking signal in organic search.

Meaning whether or not your website had an SSL certificate could determine where it slotted your page in its search ranking results.

So do those HTTPS websites really get special treatment from Google?

Oh yeah.

Did You Know?

41% of home services companies don’t have a SSL certificate for their website. Get the full study here!

So, Is HTTPS Good for SEO?

Backlinko analysed 1 million Google search results, and took a look at this specific question.

The results were just what you’d expect…

They found that HTTPS is moderately correlated with higher search rankings on page 1 of Google.

https google page 1 impact

There are other studies out there that have found minor correlations as well, like this one from Moz.

The SSL certificate can significantly improve the user experience of your visitors.

Stats show that having SSL on your site can decrease your page bounce rates as well.

If a person lands on an unsafe website, he would see indicators that the site is not secure and quit browsing.

Google notices this behavior, and will ultimately demote your website in the results because people are leaving your site so quickly and landing.

This tells Google your site is not worthy of being ranked for such a high keyword.

Fewer traffic views means fewer chances to create backlinks and increase engagement rate — all which play into your SEO strategy.

The fact that better rankings can lead to more traffic and the more searchers will see your site in results can improve your site’s click-through rates–thus also leading to better SEO outcomes.

How To Make the Leap to HTTPS

While HTTPS can have an effect, all be it a minor one, on search rankings but will only grow into a bigger impact later.

There are different types of SSL certificates to choose from that can make sure your visitors experience is exceptional.

If you haven’t made the shift to HTTPS yet, Valve+Meter can help. Contact us to today for a free analysis of your entire website.