The general security of the internet has been a priority for Google for several years. Specifically, it continually stresses the importance of websites using SSL certificates to protect information being transmitted on the internet. Now, though, Google is taking this a stage further – it now tells users that websites are not secure if they do not have an SSL certificate.
This is in addition to the fact that SSL encryption is one of the 200+ ranking factors that Google uses to decide where to put your website on its search results pages.
What Is SSL Encryption?
SSL is a technology that creates an encrypted link between the web server hosting your website and the browsers of people visiting your site. In other words, it protects information while it is in transit between the server and the browser, preventing third-parties from spying or tampering with the data.
You can see whether a website has SSL encryption by looking at the URL. A website that doesn’t have encryption will use HTTP while a website with an SSL certificate will use HTTPS.
Most web browsers also indicate when a website is secure, often with a closed padlock symbol.
What Is Google Doing Now?
The changes Google is implementing relate to its Chrome web browser. At the moment, the Chrome web browser tells you when a website is secure. You can see this by looking at the top left corner of the browser next to the refresh button on a desktop computer. If the website has SSL encryption, it will have a green closed padlock with the word Secure beside it.
If the website does not have encryption, Chrome replaces this with an information icon. Users can then click on the icon to find out more information about the security of the site.
The newest version of Chrome includes a small change to this, however. Instead of just the information icon, there will also be a message beside it that says Not secure. In other words, it tells users immediately, without having to click.
Does SSL Encryption Impact Search Rankings?
In simple terms, SSL encryption can help your website rank higher on search results pages. This has been the case since 2014.
That said, SSL encryption is one of over 200 ranking factors that Google uses. Representatives from Google have also played down its importance, describing it more as a tiebreaker ranking factor, i.e. when all other factors are equal, SSL encryption could determine the result.
Should You Get an SSL Certificate to Secure Your Website?
Google Chrome is one of the most widely used web browsers in the world. Plus, it would not be surprising if other web browsers followed Google’s lead in the near future. Therefore, it is a good idea to implement the technology on your website. The benefits of doing so include:
- Builds trust with visitors
- Helps protect the privacy and security of visitors to your website
- Gives you a ranking boost in Google search, even if that boost is minimal
Plus, the cost of implementing and maintaining an SSL certificate is low.
Google couldn’t be clearer: it wants websites to use SSL encryption. Plus, there are no significant downsides. Therefore, it is good advice to follow.