With increased online activity over the last year, there has been a lot of buzz around the security of websites, privacy issues, and sensitive data protection of internet users. With rising awareness among the users and at the same time Google associating so much of importance to the security of user data and websites, it is only natural for website owners to be under pressure to adhere to all the right security measures as well as build a well-rounded strategy to win the confidence of its customers and grow its revenue. So, this poses many questions to ponder upon.
Many times, you must have seen warning messages popping up telling you that this website is not secure. What is your first reaction? Yes, you want to leave the website. Next, as a user, you have every right to look up a more secure platform and better user experience; maybe you will explore the next website from your search result. But from a website owner perspective, an unsecured website costs you heavily on your reputation, on your growth, as you keep losing your potential customers to your competition. Instead of increasing your conversion rate, you may end up increasing bounce rate and badly affecting your Google search engine result page ranking.
So, here comes an SSL Certificate that plays a crucial role in securing your website and protecting sensitive user’s information from any misuse by cybercriminals. As Google continues to push the use of SSL certificates for all websites to mark a presence in the ever-growing online market, website owners must understand the importance of SSL Certificates in SEO to secure a better ranking on the Google search engine result page. So, first, let us try to grasp the very basics of SSL certificates and then explore the role of SSL in SEO.
Understanding SSL Certificate And How To Get it For Your Website
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is the website security protocol that encrypts all the data exchange between the user’s web browser and the webserver. So now, what is an SSL Certificate? The SSL Certificate is a digital certificate issued by Certificate Authorities to the websites that shift the website protocol from HTTP to secure HTTPS. Once the SSL Certificate is installed on the webserver, the HTTPS protocol makes sure that all the sensitive information sent by the user’s web browser is encrypted and then sent to the web server, making it inaccessible to hackers. As a result of this, securing the website with SSL Certificate protects user crucial information against any Man in the Middle Cyber Attacks. The encrypted information can then be decoded by the webserver, which is provided with an authorized key to perform this action. The SSL Certificate secured websites display a visual symbol of trust, a padlock before the URL of the website in the address bar that tells visitors they are in a secured online platform.
You can buy SSL Certificates from the many reputed, authorized, best SSL Certificate providers that provide you with an array of SSL Certificates to choose from depending on your security choices and budgets (Unstack includes SSL in all plans). SSL Certificates can also be bought from your website hosting service provider. It is equally important to keep your SSL Certificate updated and renew it on time, well before its expiry.
What Benefits an SSL Certificate Bring in for Your Site and Its Visitors?
An SSL secured website, no doubt, is a straight trust winner for your visitor. The visual trust symbols associated with SSL Certificates like padlock before the URL of the website, trust seals, etc., have a direct impact on the trust and confidence with which visitors visit your site. This is visible from the survey done by HubSpot Research (Source), where 82% of respondents would leave a site that is not secure,
In an SSL secured website, users are without fear for the safety of the financial and personal sensitive information shared on the website. So, SSL Certificate greatly improves the user experience for the visitors, with no more warning messages that negatively impact your engagement rate and hence chances of increasing conversion rate and growth in your revenue.
SSL Certificate authenticates the website identity to the user’s web browser. Thus, it protects visitors from falling prey to fake websites trying to steal visitor’s online identity to carry out fraudulent financial transactions. SSL also ensures the data integrity of the information exchanged between the web browser of the user and the webserver. This is achieved by digitally signing the information so that its integrity remains intact. As a result, Google gives an SSL secured website a better ranking on the Google Search Engine Result Page than an unsecured site. Hence, a better ranking can help you attract more traffic to your website because of better visibility and more potential conversions.
Impact of SSL Certificate on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Rankings
Several factors determine the Google Search Engine Result Page Ranking of a website. Many solutions need to be implemented to improve this ranking, like smooth website structure, page content, creating backlinks, etc. But as Google encourages websites secured with SSL Certificate and, as a policy, claims to give SSL secured websites a better ranking than those not secured. Therefore, using an SSL Certificate seems to be the easiest, fastest, and indispensable way of improving the SEO rankings of your website.
According to a study by Search Engine Journal (Source) to study the relation between SEO Rankings and HTTPS usage by websites, about 45 per cent of results in the first position to about 50 per cent of results in the second position were secured with HTTPS. The difference between the first and the second position may be due to other more significant factors on the top result on the SERP.
It is found out that the first position had a lower percentage of HTTPS sites than the second and third positions, but on analysis, an interesting trend on the rest of the first page is observed. The study also stated that the number of sites on the first page using HTTPS steadily decreased from positions 2 through 10. These observations as a whole supported the idea that HTTPS usage can affect SEO rankings on Google.
The SSL Certificate improves the user experience multi-folds by giving the visitors a secure environment where they need not worry about the privacy and security of their shared data, thereby increasing the visitors' engagement time. On the other hand, unsecured websites have to lose prospective customers who tend to leave when prompted by Google telling them that their connection is not safe. This increases the website's bounce rate and prompting Google, in turn, to further demote the ranking of the unsecured website. With a lower ranking on Google Search Engine Result Page, because of lower visibility, the website will attract lower traffic and fewer chances of conversions, fewer chances of creating backlinks which again results in losing on any chances of improving SEO Rankings.
Looking To Boost SEO Rankings, Which SSL Certificate is Best For Me?
Having learned about the basics of SSL Certificates and their impact on SEO Rankings, it is now time to choose the right one for you depending on all the factors relating to technical weightage, financial constraints, and security requirements. There are an array of choices available in SSL Certificates, mainly categorized based on the type of validity requirement and secondly based on the number of domains a website needs to secure.
The level of Identity verification done on the clients by the CAs issuing the SSL Certificates decides the different validity SSL Certificates issued. The verification process may involve simple automated tests, as in the case of Domain Validation SSL Certificate, to a detailed foolproof Manual verification of all the database of the client's authenticity as in the case of Extended Validation Certificate. Based on the validity of SSL Certificates, there are three main types of SSL Certificates.
Domain Validation (DV) SSL Certificate:
DV SSL Certificate is the most basic SSL Certificate that involves presenting only proof of ownership of the domain to the CA; subsequently, the DV SSL Certificate is issued by the authority. The simplest verification process makes the DV SSL Certificate the quickest to be issued and cheapest of all. Therefore, this certificate is very popular among small enterprises and website owners who do not handle sensitive information. However, DV SSL Certificate does not cover any information regarding the company, and hence it becomes difficult to verify the client's authenticity to which certificate is issued.
Organization Validation (OV) SSL Certificate:
The OV SSL Certificate is issued after carrying out both domain verification and carrying out an authentication verification process of the company that has requested issuing the OV SSL Certificate. The certificate issued contains the information about the company, which can be viewed by accessing the OV SSL Certificate issued to the client but is not displayed directly. Therefore, it is more expensive than DV SSL Certificate, and the time taken for issuing this certificate is also longer as verification of the owner company is involved.
Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificate:
The EV SSL Certificate is the most highly reputed and trusted SSL Certificate. Strict database checks of the company are carried out, including its present operational status, address, etc. So, this SSL Certificate takes the longest time to be issued to a client and is hence the most expensive. Since most exhaustive methodology goes into verifying the authenticity of the certificate owner, special trust symbols are added to the website, a green address bar, green padlock, and company's name are displayed upfront in the address bar. Thus, a lot of credibility is associated with the website secured with an EV SSL Certificate. Big establishments like banks, e-commerce websites are popular customers of EV SSL Certificates.
Now that we are aware of various validity requirements of SSL Certificates let us now focus on the appropriate choice of SSL Certificates based on your requirement of securing a single domain, Standard SSL Certificate or multiple domains, Wildcard SSL Certificate, or Multiple-Domain SSL Certificates.
A single domain certificate authenticates and secures only the main root domain. Hence if you wish to secure multiple domains or subdomains, buying individual single domain certificates can cause a real mess as managing individual single domain certificates will not be cost-effective and difficult to manage. A Wildcard SSL Certificate or Multiple-Domain Certificate will be easier to manage and more cost-effective in such cases.
A Wildcard SSL Certificate protects the main root domain and the sub-domains, one level below the main root domain. In addition, a website secured by a Wildcard SSL Certificate displays a special character(*) before the URL of the website.
Multi-domain/SAN SSL Certificate:
A Multi-domain or SAN(Subject Alternative Name) SSL Certificate secures multiple domains and subdomains with a single certificate.
Eg. With a single Multiple- Domain Certificate all the following domains can be secured:
In conclusion, we can say, that now that we are fully aware of what an SSL Certificate is all about and various types of SSL Certificates, by now you will be fully convinced that investing in an SSL Certificate to secure your website is the single easiest and fastest way of achieving a gain in SEO Rankings and attracting traffic to your website. The trust factor generated by the SSL Certificate security in the potential customers is unmatched. This trust factor is the most significant factor affecting directly or indirectly other more important factors eventually leading to improving the SEO Rankings. Increased conversions are the natural results of all these combined efforts, which will take your business to the zenith of success.