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September 8, 2016

What Is An SSL Certificate And How Does It Relate To SEO?

Author: Sammi Merritt


While browsing the web, it is likely that you’ve come across a site with a little green lock in the URL at the top of your browser. Seeing this lock means that you’re in a safe spot on the web; the site you’re on is secured by SSL – but what does that mean?

What is SSL?

SSL (short for Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol used to encrypt data sent to and from a server when someone accesses your website. When your site is encrypted with SSL, the URL will begin with https instead of http. When a user visits your site via http, anyone anywhere could read the data sent, from usernames and passwords to credit card information and form submissions. Needless to say, these are private pieces of data meant to be shared only between you and your user.

With SSL enabled, however, the user can access your site via https, and their information is much more secure. The data becomes encrypted, and you and your user can rest easy knowing that their searches and history cannot be tracked by malicious parties.

How Does This Affect SEO?

When hearing that user information cannot be tracked via SSL, it is important to note that your Google Analytics and other tracking information that you use to log visits to your site are not affected by this; in fact, Google has announced that they will be providing a slight SEO boost to sites which implement SSL. While this will not immediately send your site to the top of every search result, it does mean that your site is more likely to appear on the first page than sites which do not implement SSL.

What is Involved in Getting SSL?

To secure your site with SSL, you need only obtain a certificate and install it on your hosting service. Certificates range from around $100 – $500, but can be more or less depending on where you purchase it from. The certificates usually expire after about a year, and must be renewed.

Why Should I Implement SSL?

In addition to added security and a small SEO boost, there are a plethora of reasons to switch to SSL. The green lock icon that appears with your URL makes users feel safer on your site, and it also has benefits when it comes to referrer data. SSL verifies that the server is reaching the correct website, and protects your site from being tampered with by hackers or other third parties.

The biggest reason, however, is that Google says so. As the leading search engine in the world, it is important to keep Google’s ranking preferences in mind where possible, so we can all reach towards the goal of providing a pleasant, safe experiences for all of our users on the web.

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Sammi Merritt

Sammi is Atilus' Front-End Developer, and specializes in developing custom Wordpress sites. With 6 years of experience in web development and a strong interest in creative web solutions, she works to build sites that look great and run smoothly.

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