Google gives a ranking boost to websites protected by a SSL

Recently you may have heard the buzz about Google’s SSL ranking boost in the organic search results for those that put their full website under a SSL; which stands for Secure Socket Layer. You might wonder what the heck a SSL is. Quite simply, a SSL encrypts any data flowing between your site and the visitor and keeps any prying eyes from seeing your private data as it is transmitted. All e-commerce sites; for instance, that accept payments or donations directly on their website will have an SSL installed. If they don’t then shop somewhere else as your credit card information will be public visible by anyone crafty enough to intercept it! You might also be wondering “How do I know if a website is using a SSL?” Take a look at the address bar for “https” at the beginning and a lock icon to the left of the address bar in some web browsers and to the right in others; like Internet Explorer. If you look at the address bar now, you will see the “https” in the beginning of the address and a lock icon as well.

Google’s Matt Cutts initiated the idea of using “https” as ranking signal in March of 2014 at the SMX conference. Matt said

Over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1 per cent of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

Well, 5 months later and after Matt took his leave from Google (through October 2014), they made it a reality. The promise of strengthening the boost later is still on the table, too. You might be wondering whether it is worth going forth with this. I can emphatically say yes! Let me offer this to you as to a real-world result. Since I started HallMarc Websites; originally HallMarc Website Designs Plus, my site hadn’t been under a SSL. I decided to watch my site results in Google for two variations of a key phrase I had been monitoring for months. For one version my listing was consistently on page 3 and for the other variation my site was bouncing somewhere between pages 16-18. On November 26, 2014 I installed a SSL on this website and put the whole site under the SSL as recommended and wow! Within 48 hours my site listing for the first variation went to #7 on page 1! The second variation received a larger boost! That listing rose to the bottom of page 2 and sometimes the top of page 3! I am amazed! So simple and so effective. As they say, “Your mileage may vary.” and that may very well be due to other SEO issues that might be present on the website.