Back in April, it was major news that Google shared that having a mobile-friendly website would be a ranking factor in Google search results as Google has historically been quiet about what elements effect a site’s ranking. Now, the SEO industry is buzzing with the idea that security is a confirmed ranking factor.
So, what’s this security element? You may see in the address bar of certain websites the HTTP or HTTPS designation and we generally don’t give much thought to it but this is the designation that Google is looking at (see example below)! Google has stated that it prefers the HTTPS designation as it’s safer. Now, don’t run away and talk to your web developer about adding the HTTPS to your site as this ranking factor doesn’t have a major influence at this time, but more is included in a mix of things to determine where your site ranks.
Why are we talking about it then? Because down the line it could have more of an impact on ranking factor as Google says this move is to encourage webmasters to use stronger security features and to help keep people safe on the web. It’s a ranking factor that we’re definitely keeping our eye on.
These SSL certificates show the online visitor if the site is safe and has secure connections from the web server to the online visitor’s browser whereas the yellow shows that the connections may have errors. These symbols showcase trust and most online visitors would be more comfortable entering credit card information with a site with the green padlock symbol. When guests get to your RezStream booking engine, they’ll feel much more secure as we utilize HTTPS for booking transactions.
For our clients, you may hear us discuss the security of your website over the next few months and for non-clients, you may want to investigate the cost and time associated with implementing HTTPS.
Moving sites over to HTTPS can be a challenge and requires some technical know-how, especially with 301 redirects. 301 Redirects simply forward an old URL to a new one as the original page may have been removed due to outdated information or just no longer exists. After initial implementation of HTTPS, many sites saw a decrease in search traffic though as we all know, SEO is a tactic that’s in it for the long-term, so a short-term setback is nothing to get too upset over.
The other issue with moving over to HTTPS, and why you’ll want a savvy web developer, is the loss of referral traffic. The traffic is still there, it’s probably just not tagged right. For example, we have a client that enabled the HTTPS certificate but noticed some of their advertisers were showing a loss of referral traffic. Traffic wasn’t down, it just wasn’t being tracked appropriately. When traffic goes from a HTTPS site to a HTTP site, that information is lost unless you use the referrer tag.
This meta referrer tag is put on your website and basically says how traffic should be tracked when people are referred to your site.
Here’s some information on going to HTTPS and some best practices making the switch if you feel HTTPS is right for your website.
What do you think of security as a ranking factor? Tell us in the comments section below!