Do SSL Certificates Affect Search Rankings?

August 10th, 2017

A huge percentage of online users are reluctant to add their personal information on the web. About 68% of them do not enter their credit card details as they don’t trust the current laws that protect their right.

This is the sole reason why Google created strict rules to assure users of new laws that protect their privacy over the web. And as quoted by them “consumer security is always their top priority”.

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In the year 2014, Google announced the necessity of HTTPS as a ranking signal. HTTPS was implemented to improve the online security of the website, so the consumer information doesn’t land up in the wrong hands.

Since the feature claimed to affect the online market, it has been the talk of the town in the marketing industry. There’s a lot of chatter going around about it as many people cannot decide whether the effort to install this encrypted connection is worth or not.

So is it worth or not?

When we see the analytics now, only 2% of the top 1 million websites have redirected their users to a HTTPS/SSL version. In fact, the top webmasters and tech giants didn’t switch to a secured version of the web. But this in no way suggests that SSL version is not worth enough.


Marketers needed concrete data that proved HTTPS is worth settling for.

For businesses that didn’t switch to this advanced security version, in this article we will brief you about the SSL standards and how SSL certificate affects the search engine rankings for any website.

What are the benefits of switching your website to HTTPS and the potential challenges associated

HTTPS stands for the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure and is used to secure web pages with private data (personal information like bank account details) of the user on the website.

Though it is recommended for the entire website, securing certain pages is also not a bad tip.

HTTPS adds extra layers of protection on the web pages, making website more secure and user-friendly.

How does SSL Work?

The SSL certificate involves 2 keys- Public and Private. Even if your website is hacked (your public key is accessible) the hacker will have control of your data but he would need a private key to decrypt it from the system.

There are other benefits of switching to HTTPS; for example- it is responsible for keeping your referrer data intact. As the result, when you switch to HTTP from a secured HTTPS connection, data is lost in the process. This appears under the ‘Direct’ section in the analytics and is considered as the ‘dark’ traffic on the web. This is an unexplained source of traffic and analytics is unable to determine the source for it.

However, the latest advancements in security by Google ensures that if all the features are equal, your HTTPS will act as a tiebreaker. This directly increases the search engine rankings of the website.

But the challenges…

Of course switching to HTTPS comes with its own set of advantages, but there are challenges that every business will have to face.

1. Indexing

Since Google chooses to preferentially index the HTTPS page version other than the similar version of HTTP, it in no way states the links on the HTTP version won’t get counted.

However, if there are any duplicate links with both HTTPS and HTTP version, the HTTPS version isn’t prefered over HTTP. This means that even if you’ve not set redirects to the website, you won’t lose links.

2. Cost

The cost of the certificate is the deciding factor for many businesses. Though you can get access to the SSL certificate for free, the cost can extend up to $1,499/year, if you choose certificate provider like the Symantec. Cost also depends on how huge your website is since the overall cost associated in encrypting the data can be hefty for small businesses that run on limited budgets.

You can get it for as low as $20/year as well.


3. Content Duplicacy

If you are not careful about the content on both the versions (https & http), the search engine might index it twice and mark it as duplicate content. This doesn’t work well for your users as search result can show the same content from 2 different pages.

Pointers you need to keep in mind

Though a lot has been said about SSL certificate, it is important for every business to note the Dos and Don’ts of an SSL certificate.

  1. If you are thinking to switch to HTTPS solely to improve the search engine ranking, it might not be such a great idea.
  2. HTTPS and SEO don’t have much correlation since both domains require significant resources and time.
  3. HTTPS is more about making the consumer feel safe than to affect the search engine rankings. But it moderately affects the ranking though.
  4. When Brian Dean, the top SEO expert and founder of Backlinko collaborated with MOZ, SEMrush, Ahrefs, SimilarWeb and MarketMuse to analyze 1 million Google search results, he analyzed that new websites with SSL certificate rank higher as compared to the ones who switch to the version later.
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So, with all the features intact, businesses can consider the chances of switching to a secured network that assures better customer base and user experience.

Though the effects of switching to HTTPS are minor for now, it is believed that there will be significant results in the future. And if you have the budget to shift to HTTPS version for your website right now, you can perform the transfer, keeping in mind all the scenarios we discussed in this article.

Have you made a shift to HTTPS? What are the major challenges you encountered?

Comment down below and let us know how HTTPS helped your website!