Recent news from the Google blog has for one of the very first times, seen the search engine giant letting us in on their secret ranking algorithm. In the past they have kept the cards close to their chest as to what are the key influencing ranking signals, to ensure that their search results cannot be easily gamed. So it was with much surprise when earlier in the week they made an announcement that gave a clue to what can lead to a possible higher ranking in the search results.

In the news release from Google they indicate that use of HTTPS or securing your website’s communications between your site and your server is secure for your users who are entering personal details and login information, is now included in the ranking signals due to their experimentation in the past months. Their reasons for doing this are related to helping the web to become a safe place for web surfers
and this comes inline with their total https or encrypted search engine environment they have implemented in recent times, which has led to the (not provided) keywords in the Organic traffic section of Google Analytics.

So the question has to be asked is how much of an affect is the installing of a SSL certificate and securing your website completely, (not just when you maybe selling something to someone via your ecommerce shopping cart) going to have on your search rankings in Google? Good question and one that can only be answered by doing it.

After reading some blogs this week, it has been a mixture of feelings on whether or not to go to the trouble of setting up the SSL certicate and having it installed on your server. Some are saying that it absolutely must be a top priority  and others not so convinced. My take on this is, when Google gives you a booster ticket to move up the queue, you don’t ask why or hesitate. Yes it can be quite troublesome to do, especially if you have not done it before, but any experienced webmaster should be able to organise this for you and save you the hassle.

Is going HTTPS going to be the Godsend to a site that is not ranking well? My guess is no.

Is it possible to move a site stuck in #2 for a keyword to move to #1, yes I think this is a real possible outcome. Google have said that the stronger signal is “high-quality content” and that the HTTPS signal is not going to affect rankings as much, but they say this is early days and possibly further down the track it will gain in signal strength.

So is it time to get an SSL certificate on your site to encrypt your web visitors sessions? Let’s just consider for a moment the other issues, perhaps the bigger issues that this is addressing before making our final decision.

According to a report on smh.com.au, having an insecure web session where sensitive personal information is not secure in a wifi situation could be the cause of problems you might like to deal without:

“Anyone with network sniffing software can intercept traffic on open wireless networks and, if passwords and personal information is being sent, that attacker now has a lot of … information that could be used to cause a lot of problems,” Mr Webster said.

heatmap_top_10_googleClearly when you consider the amount of use the web get’s put to in public wifi networks, it definitely makes good sense to eliminate this sort of threat and this on top of the fact that you just might be making more sales than your competitor who at present is out-ranking you. One important thing to note is that the difference of traffic between #1 and #2 can be 400%, as statistically the first ranked organic listing gets 4 times the amount of clicks when compared to the number two ranked site. Just imagine what quadrupling your traffic is going to do to your bottom-line? Now do you need anymore reasons for dropping everything and getting your site over to HTTPS sooner rather than later?