Using SSL for SEO is an SOS

by Tom Davis

Secure connection and small business websites

HTTPS for Seach Engine OptimizationWhen Google recently announced that they would be giving a small bump in their search rankings for websites using a secure connection for all visitors something seemed strange. For the unwashed masses, a secure connection (sometimes called SSL) to a website is when the site uses encryption when communicating with site visitors. You usually see a lock or shield in your browser address bar.

It is important to know that the basis of this connection is the a Security Certificate installed on the website side of the connection.

It seemed strange the Google would announce this the way they did. I have never seen them announce any ranking signal like this before.  It seemed to me that something was not being said.

Dollars from heaven for hosting companies.

The SEO people I talked to seemed to take it in stride and prioritized this way down the list of things that you need to worry about. (Even Google said that it would be a very small effect on rank.) But the hosting companies grabbed the baton and ran with it. After all, they are the likely source for buying a security certificate.

Last week when logging into some website control panels I was stopped with ads using the Google ranking announcement to entice me into buying a security certificate. I guess I cannot blame them for trying, but I feel sorry for the poor do-it-yourself site owners that are buying certificates because they think it will make a difference in their site rank. Maybe they feel better at throwing $100 a year at the vague promise of "adding SEO" to their site.

I wonder if the hosting companies even help the site owners setup the proper redirects to force the "https" connection.

The real reason.

It finally dawned on me that Google is using its position as the arbiter of search rank to coax site owners into using more encrypted connections. I believe that Google would like to see the entire World Wide Web encrypted. Which might be a good goal, but this would be a cheesy way to try and acheive it.

For now, my advice is to not worry about SSL until you have exhausted other more fruitful SEO tactics. I cannot think of one website where another run through page titles would not be ten times more beneficial to rank than adding SSL.