Unsecured Websites: Mastering SSL for SEO Benefits

Arthur Fabik

As you venture into the digital space, understanding website security is crucial for safeguarding your online presence and boosting your search engine optimisation efforts.

A key aspect of this is knowing the difference between HTTP and HTTPS protocols.

HTTP, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, has been the foundation for data communication over the internet.

However, this protocol does not encrypt data, leaving information exchanged between websites and their users vulnerable to interception.

This is where HTTPS comes in, offering a layer of security through SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).

Implementing SSL to shift your site from HTTP to HTTPS is not only about protection; it's a matter of trust and credibility. Google acknowledges the importance of security by using HTTPS as a ranking signal.

When your website flaunts that padlock icon, it tells visitors that their information is encrypted and securely transmitted, making them more likely to stay and interact with your site. Remember, secure sites not only protect user data but also enhance user experience, which in turn can reduce bounce rates and potentially improve your site's standings in search engine results.

For beginners delving into the world of SEO, it's essential to recognise that security is a foundational element. Websites marked as 'Not Secure' can deter users from proceeding, which could lead to a high bounce rate. Such user behaviour signals search engines like Google that the user experience is subpar, potentially impacting your site's ranking. By securing your website with SSL, you're setting the stage for a more trustworthy relationship with your audience and a stronger SEO performance.

Understanding Unsecured Websites

In the realm of SEO and website security, understanding the difference between secured and unsecured websites is crucial. Secured websites utilise HTTPS with SSL certificates to protect data, while unsecured websites typically use HTTP without these protections, potentially harming both user trust and SEO ranking.

What Is SSL and Why Is It Important for SEO

SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is a technology that encrypts the connection between your website's server and the visitor's browser. This encryption is symbolised by HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) in your website's URL. Google considers HTTPS as a ranking signal, which means utilising SSL may improve your website's search engine ranking. It's a critical component of your SEO glossary, as it reassures users that their data is secure, potentially reducing bounce rates and improving user engagement.

Consequences of Not Using SSL

Not implementing SSL on your website can have dire consequences:

  • Personal data vulnerability: Without SSL, user information is at an increased risk of interception by malicious parties.
  • SEO impact: Search engines like Google might rank your website lower if it's unsecured, leading to reduced visibility.
  • Warning messages: Modern browsers often display warning messages to users when they attempt to access unsecured sites, which can deter visitors and negatively affect traffic.

Identifying Unsecured Sites

You can identify if a site is secured with SSL by looking for the following indicators:

  • Check the URL in the address bar; a secured website has "https://" rather than "http://".
  • Look for a padlock icon to the left of the URL in most browsers.
  • Using Google Chrome, the word 'Secure' might appear near the URL if the site uses SSL.

By keeping an eye out for these signs, you can verify the security status of websites you visit or manage. Always aim to secure your site with HTTPS to enhance both website security and SEO performance.

Implementing SSL Certificates

To effectively secure your website and boost its ranking, incorporating SSL certificates is essential. This process not only enhances security but also contributes to your site's SEO performance.

Selecting the Right SSL Certificate

Choosing the right SSL certificate for your website depends on the level of security required and the nature of your business. There are three main types of SSL/TLS certificates, each serving different purposes:

  • Domain Validated (DV) Certificates: Ideal for blogs and personal websites where basic encryption is sufficient.
  • Organisation Validated (OV) Certificates: Suited for businesses and organisations that require a higher level of trust and validation.
  • Extended Validation (EV) Certificates: Provides the highest level of trust with a thorough validation process, typically used by large corporations and e-commerce sites.

When selecting a provider, consider factors like the level of customer support offered, the price of renewals, and whether they include a site seal that can demonstrate security to site visitors. Providers like GoDaddy are known for their variety of options and support services.

Step-by-Step Guide to Implementing SSL

  1. Purchase Your SSL Certificate: Acquire your SSL from a reputable certificate authority.
  2. Activate Your Certificate: Provide your Certificate Signing Request (CSR) to activate your SSL. This can often be generated through your hosting control panel.
  3. Install Your Certificate: Once the certificate is issued, install it on your hosting server. WordPress users can find plugins to aid with this process.
  4. Update Your Website to HTTPS: Change the settings within your site to ensure all pages load over HTTPS, redirecting all HTTP traffic to HTTPS.
  5. Verify Your SSL Installation: Utilise tools to verify that SSL has been properly implemented across your entire website.
  6. Update Google Search Console: Inform Google of your move to HTTPS to retain and possibly improve your site's rank. Maintain your SEO by updating links and sitemaps.
  7. Monitor Your Site: Regularly check your website's performance and security status to ensure ongoing protection and crawl efficiency.

By following these steps, you can safeguard your site with an SSL/TLS certificate, signal to visitors that their data is protected, and potentially strengthen your position in search engine rankings with enhanced technical SEO.

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Arthur Fabik
Arthur is the Head of SEO at Local Digital. He's been working in the space for most of the last decade at some of the biggest agencies in Australia. Now, he's responsible for the Local Digital SEO team with one goal - smashing SEO results out of the park for our clients.

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