Does HTTPS Affect SEO Ranking?

Our online communications have always been under threat and more so, in recent years. That has called for radical measures by security experts to encrypt the entire world wide web. Google too, in its bid to make all the communications on the web secure by default, has been pushing website owners to make the shift from HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS).  If you own a website or are someone who manages search engine optimisation (SEO) for a website, it has, now, become imperative for you to understand the difference between HTTP and HTTPS and how switching to HTTPS could benefit you.

HTTPS protects a website through authentication, encryption and data integrity. Google has been marking sites without HTTPS as ‘non-secure’, for instance, a warning message saying ‘not secure’ pops up in the URL bar of Chrome browser every time a user enters data into a non-HTTPS webpage or when HTTP pages are viewed in incognito mode. An insecure connection can make your website prone to attacks from the third parties, such as man-in-the-middle (MitM). HTTPS would not only make your website safe but it would also ensure a secure experience for the user. This added level of security can also boost the visibility of your website on the web because Google, since 2014, has been suggesting that HTTPS is among the search ranking signals and websites with HTTPS get preference from Google on its search result page to the websites with HTTP that do not encrypt their connection. What’s more, there are other factors such as high page speed, low bounce rate which affect the ranking of a website. It has been found that pages with HTTPS connection have better page speed and they load faster than the HTTP sites. Further, customers have more trust in HTTPS sites and their chances of completing a purchase transaction are more on a secured connection. Both these two factors may help improve the ranking of your website.

In the past, many organisations and small business entities stayed away from HTTPS and one of the major reasons was the high cost involved in its deployment, primarily for obtaining and renewing the digital certificates. However, that has reduced significantly over the year, especially with the advent of the non-profit certificate authority such as Let’s Encrypt which provides Domain validation (DV) certificate for free or content delivery networks like CloudFare that offers free Transport Level Security (TLS) certificate or WordPress providing HTTPS to all the sites hosted on it by default. In addition to that, in the last couple of years, we have seen accelerated adoption of HTTPS and the skyrocketing number of websites with HTTPS and a lot can be attributed to its advocacy by Google.

A secure experience for your visitors means better ranking on the SERP for your website and that means more traffic coming to your business. The bottom line is that a secure website can improve your SEO results and it would be a good idea to make that switch to HTTPS as soon as possible!

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