How Does Using SSL Help With SEO Rankings

Most SEO’ers will do anything for that extra edge over their competitors. The use of SSL is a safe, and effective way to achieve just that. There is no doubt that SSL sites rank higher. Although migrating a site from http to https carries some risk. 

Using SSL certificates is vital considering the fact that current data protection laws are not believed to be enough by a whopping 68% of internet users. This articles explores the why behind does SSL help with SEO rankings.

This is one of the core reasons why Google has been taking stringent steps to ensure that privacy of all users gets protected.

Security has always been a top priority for Google and other search engines. In order to get more sites to implement advanced secure connection for users, the search engine giant had announced Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) to be a ranking signal way back in 2014. 

Currently, there are over 265 ranking signals and most SEO experts believe that SSL is still considered an important factor in determining search rankings. So, it is logical that switching over to secure HTTPS will bolster your rankings with various search engines, providing strong online visibility to your business. 

What are SSL Certificates?

SSL or Secure Sockets Layer creates an additional layer of security to protect the information visitors choose to share with a website. 


SSL refers to having an encrypted link established between a browser and a web server using standard security technology. This link ensures that any data that is passed between the browser and the web server is protected and remains private. 

The SSL certificate on https:// website ensures that the data provided by a visitor shall not be leaked to anyone and that the encrypted connection will work hard to protect customer information. 

SSL certificate is the protocol used by HTTPS and you would have to install this if you want data between your web pages and server to remain private, secure and confidential. 

SSL certificates essentially act as padlocks when they are installed on a web server. They work to provide a secure connection by binding together your server name (domain or hostname) with your company name and location. 

The intricate working of SSL certificates and HTTPS can be confusing to a layman. But, the short of it is that it involves a public and private key. So, even if some hacker manages to intercept personal information of site visitors, they won’t have the private key to decrypt that information. 

SSL Certificates Help With SEO

Google already mentioned in 2014 that a secure website will have an advantage over those that are not encrypted and secure. 

However, this is only when all other SEO factors remain the same. This makes it difficult to calculate the exact impact of HTTPS on your site’s SEO rankings. 

For instance, you will not be able to measure the precise impact of your SSL certificate in terms of search engine rankings when you compare with a competitor website in the same niche with thousands of high-authority backlinks. 

In this particular situation, it is quite possible that the advantage of having thousands of high-quality and powerful backlinks is more significant that the disadvantage of not having an encrypted and secure connection.  

You need to understand that while having a HTTPS website is important in terms of SEO, it won’t magically just propel your site at the top of search engine results. 

However, if you take care of other search engine ranking signals and do all the important things correctly then having a SSL certificate may just give you the boost you require. It can be enough to overtake other websites in a competitive and tough niche. 

A major benefit of switching to SSL certificates is that your referral data remains secure and intact. Typically, referral data is lost when you move from a secured HTTPS to an unsecured HTTP. 

This will appear as a “Direct” on your analytics report. Most SEO experts refer to this as the internet’s “dark” traffic. 

However, Google has now stated that HTTPS can be used as a tiebreaker in search results face-off when all other factors are equal. Websites, like Cloudtec, are a witness to the fact that switching over to HTTPS works. 

Their listing in the top 10 search engine rankings almost doubled once they installed a SSL certificate. Their overall page visibility also improved.

SSL Certificates Improve User Experience

When you improve user experience, you automatically help your SEO ranking.

Why is that?

Well.. SSL certificates indirectly promote your site’s ranking to improve the bottom line. There is no denying the fact that SSL certificates help enhance user experience. 

Chrome, Firefox, and almost every other browser warn users about HTTPS security. Users can see visible indicators about the lack of safety in a site if they land on an unsecure website. Google and other search engines also advise visitors to quit browsing the site. 

Chrome shows a green colored padlock, right before the website URL in the address bar if you have an active SSL certificate and have configured it correctly to your web browser. If not, visitors may get a warning to not provide any sensitive information which may cause them to even drop off your site completely. This can help with click thorough rate that in turn improves your SEO. 

Search engines and browsers explicitly shame unencrypted websites. There is an increase in internet security awareness among general internet users. 

People are now more hesitant than ever to visit unencrypted websites due to this growing awareness. You may find it very difficult acquire personal information if your site does not have SSL certifications or still holds the HTTP tag. 

It is important to understand that websites that are not secure cannot possibly add to user experience. The poor feedback will prevent them from consistently ranking on top positions in search engine results. Unencrypted websites are automatically being demoted on user-related ranking signals. You can do all you want in a guest post strategy, however we often recommend to clients to focus on free things they can do on their site.

Suppose, you are ranking high for a particular keyword even though your site is unencrypted and does not have SSL certificates. 

A user finds your link organically on SERP and clicks on it. He lands on the homepage where he intends to fill in a form and is instantly warned by a Chrome indicator that the website is not secure. The user will quit within seconds of landing on your homepage. 

Google algorithm is programmed to notice this kind of behavior. Too many visitors doing the same thing will make your bounce back rate skyrocket. Your site will eventually get demoted since Google will believe it is not satisfying search intent. 

It would appear that your site is not worthy of being ranked in that particular spot or for that keyword since many visitors are quitting soon after landing on the homepage. 

The domino effect in play will soon have your website ranking lower and lower. The indirect effect of having an unsafe and unencrypted website means fewer opportunities for viral traffic, backlinks, engagement rate, and other search engine optimization factors. 

HTTPS Protects Data

Anything that ‘improves the web’ is great for SEO. There are many benefits to switching over to HTTPS. The primary one is that user information remains secure and private. It helps provide a secure connection to users on pages where they would share personal information with your site. 

HTTPS is something that is great as a blanket protection on the entire site. But, specific pages, like payments page where users are more likely to share personal and financial data by way of Social Security Number or credit card information get extra layers of protection with HTTPS. 

Basically, SSL and HTTPS together protect all “man in the middle” hacker attacks. Most businesses find it essential to install a SSL certificate, especially if they handle sensitive user information. 

SEO Challenges in Switching to HTTPS from HTTP

An encrypted website is very important if you want to survive and thrive in today’s dynamic digital landscape. You need to make sure that your visitors find your site secure and trustworthy by installing appropriate SSL certificates for your site. 

However, there are three common challenges that may prevent you from switching over to HTTPS from HTTP. 

1. Potential Decrease In Rankings In Short Term

Google has claimed to preferentially index pages with HTTPS over HTTP. This could mean that there will be a potential loss of link juice as the links pointing towards HTTP pages may not get counted. 

However, some SEO experts claim that Google counts collective signals from both HTTP and HTTPS versions of a page, even if redirects are not set up. 

2. SEO Errors if Not Done Right 

You may just end up with duplicate content if you don’t set up your SSL certificates right. This could result in both HTTPS and HTTP versions getting indexed simultaneously. Different versions of the same page may feature in search engine results, confusing your visitors and leading to negative user experience. 

3. Some Minor Costs 

There are always SSL certificates that you can get for free. However, if you are really serious about it, then you should opt for providers like Symantec. Depending upon the scale of your website, the costs can shoot up to $1,499 a year. 

Then there are the costs of encrypting transferred data which can be staggering for large websites. 

This challenge does not make SSL certificates justifiable for small businesses with limited budgets. 

How It’s Done

There are numerous challenges to getting SSL certificates in a manner that boosts your SEO rankings. It is currently known that HTTPS only moderately correlates with higher search rankings. This would indicate that you should not switch to HTTPS only for SEO purposes. 

The process of installing SSL certificates is labor and resource intensive. The efforts and data just do not signify a strong relation between SEO and HTTPS. That said, you should consider installing SSL certificates from day 1 if you are starting a new site. 

You should get SSL certificates because Google treats user privacy as important. Even if there are no significant benefits of switching over to HTTPS, the drawbacks are something you cannot afford. 

If you are on a limited budget, consider switching to HTTPS version on the pages where you request for sensitive information, like the payments page. 

How to Implement HTTPS Correctly?

If you decide to take the HTTPS leap, then all it takes is 4 simple steps to implement SSL certificates. You need to be careful since the switch essentially involves changing your fundamental URL structure.

1. Purchasing SSL Certificate

There are 3 basic kinds of SSL certificates – Extended Validation (EV), Organization Validation (OV), and Domain Validation (DV). 


Each come with their own set of features and it is strongly recommended that you buy a relevant SSL certificate, which is preferably from your hosting provider. This will ensure that you have them installed on your server for free.

For ecommerce website, EV certificates are recommended since these come with a green address bar that promotes trust and improves user experience. 

However, if on a budget then you may want to opt for OV certificate. DV are for testing and internal sites. These are issued almost immediately and are very affordable. 

2. Make Safe, White Hat Site Changes

The next step is to crawl your current website and make all the relevant changes, like setting up 301 redirects and updating all links. This is a good opportunity to make changes to your site structure or content hierarchy. 

However, before that make sure you list all the pages of your website in a spreadsheet to create a handy URL map. 

You will need to update individual URLs manually if you were using relative URLs while hyperlinking. It is important that you don’t skip any URL or metadata fields, even if it means using tools. 

3. Update HTPPS Version To Help With SEO

You will need to update HTTP directories to HTTPS versions if you have any blocking guidelines set up in the robots.txt file. Next, ensure the CDN supports HTTPS and then install your SSL certificate. 

Once you have updated all links, it is time to use Google tools to update your website address. 

Create a new search console profile and make sure you resubmit your sitemap for the new HTTPS listing. You can update to the HTPPS version by using profile settings in Google Analytics. 

Don’t forget to update social media links, canonical tags, and email marketing software tags. Also when conducting blogger outreach, it’s best to post only on sites that have https

4. Test That You Have Implemented Correctly

Perform a quick test by keying in your website into the Qualys Lab Tool or some other tool. This will make sure everything is installed properly. 

Points to Ponder

There have been many websites that have experienced a sudden drop in their search engine rankings after switching to HTTPS. If this happens to you, make sure that you performed the steps correctly and get in touch with your host for help. You could also consider hiring a search engine optimization consultant.