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Google secure sites (HTTPS/SSL) algorithm signal

Written by Natalie | 08-Aug-2014 16:18:41

The SEO industry has been buzzing over the last couple of days with news released by Google on Wednesday announcing that the ranking algorithm has been updated with a signal for secure HTTPS/SSL sites. As you’d expect there are many different views and opinions on the new signal and for good reason; we’re not just talking about secure pages where data is transferred but having all pages on a site as secure pages, even if you blog about everyday topics such as baking or technology.

But should website owners be rushing out to purchase security certificates and to make such a big change to their websites? In this post we’ll take a look at the pros and cons that should be taken into consideration before committing to such a change and the impact in your site.

So how strong is the signal?

The signal itself is a weak one, there any many more important signals within the hundreds which make up the algorithm, which are stronger such as high quality content for your users, which should be focused upon.

Should you switch to a secure site?

In a utopian web, Google envisages all genuine websites will be secure, protecting not only your users and their data but also your site from attacks by hackers, scrapers and such. This is something that will likely take time to come into being and Google know this, hence the signal being a weak one with only consideration being given to making it stronger in the future. This will help users and search engines to identify authoritative and authentic sources on the web.

In our opinion if you are in process of building a brand new website with no existing presence it’s going to be easier to implement secure connections. On the other hand, for websites which do currently exist migrating to a fully secure site is something that needs careful contemplation. This is not only with regards to the type of certificate you need to purchase and how this will implemented but also to how a migration of this scale could impact your overall organic visibility and traffic if the migration is not undertaken correctly. You should also consider any impact this could have on your web analytics and campaign tracking.

If you are considering an overhaul of your site as part of your on-going strategy then perhaps migrating to secure connections should be taken into account when drawing up the functional and technical specifications during the planning stages.

What will the impact of switching be?

Currently the impact on a sites organic rankings for having secure connections appears to be small, and once the ball starts rolling and more sites become secure the playing field will become more even.

But the negative impact that could be seen from a botched migration could be catastrophic, having expert technical SEO guidance before, during and after the migration will ensure a smooth transition and reduce the risk of a negative impact on your organic traffic, and ultimately your bottom line.

You also need to consider how your current tracking is set up for paid campaigns such as PPC, your migration plan will also need to include the tagging changes that will need to be implemented to ensure your reporting remains intact throughout the transition.

If you do decide to migrate your site to a fully secure version we can help ensure your migration goes to plan, contact us today to find out how we can help you.