Everyone who uses the internet as a tool to sell their products or services knows that Google rankings are essential for ultimate success and there has recently been a lot of discussion regarding the addition of SSL certificates to websites. While they clearly give all users a much-needed improvement to site security, some people were concerned that they would harm their algorithm position. Google have recently announced that, far from being the case, using SSL certificates will give a boost to search positions, although this will be small. They point out that anyone will get better results from addressing content than they will from enhancing security in this way but most people are simply happy to know that they can keep everyone safe online whilst giving themselves a leg up in the algorithms too, no matter how small.
Some tips from Google
To avoid confusion, Google have given some tips to those who decide to move their site from HTTP to HTTPS and with these in mind they suggest that webmasters take a few simple steps to make sure that their SEO results are not compromised. Firstly, they suggest that consideration is given to the kind of certificate required, either single, multi-domain or wildcard. Making the right decision on this at the outset saves a lot of fiddling about later. In some cases this will be an easy decision to make, but if any major expansion is planned, it may be best to choose one more than is needed immediately. Choosing the right URL is important too. Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain but remember to use protocol relative URLs for all other domains. Many people fall into the trap of blocking too many robots from accessing the site. You will still need to allow indexing of your site by search engines, so avoid the noindex robots meta tag or you will see your position in the search engines plummet.
Help with making the change
With moves to HTTPS becoming common, Google have updated their advice on how to move a site – this doesn’t mean a simple redesign, but a move for example to enhanced certification or from one web host to another. Their experience has been that mistakes are often made at this crucial time and it can wreck a site’s standing in the search engine results for a long time, which of course can completely ruin even a thriving business. They recommend that webmasters take time over the move and don't try and do everything at once. Breaking up the tasks ahead into single steps – for example not trying to change provider and URL at once – will minimise errors. Doing the work at low traffic times will also be a real advantage because if anything goes wrong, there will be fewer people around to see it! Also, it frees up more of the server’s power to help Googlebot update the indexing. The good thing about making a move of this kind is that it isn’t the kind of thing that is done every day and once enhanced security is in place and working well, it will be to everyone’s advantage, so it is well worth doing.
Don't rely on SSL certificate boosts
Some people have taken on board the news that having an HTTPS site will result in better rankings rather too much and have become complacent about quality of content. Google are adamant that any boost will be small and of course if all the protocols are not carefully sorted out by the webmaster there is a risk that, with crawling robots accidentally excluded, a website’s rankings may actually fall. Far more important than the SSL certification, say Google, is a continued attention to quality so make sure you don't fall into any of these website design mistakes.
Google also look for quality content, which some websites still struggle to provide. The days of repetitive and badly written content, with little regard to syntax or relevance apart from the over-use of keywords have gone, but many webmasters mourn their loss because obtaining and maintaining good content is more difficult and time-consuming not to say more costly than the simple change from HTTP to HTTPS.