Note: For those unfamiliar with this subject, SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and signifies a protocol that creates a secure connection between a web server and browser.
In 2014, Google announced that adding on an SSL certificate, also referred to as going HTTPS, would be rewarded with a minor ranking boost. Immediately following that announcement, many websites started making the switch from HTTP to HTTPS, yielding very positive results in the number of safe, secure, verified websites. Since then, that number has steadily grown, so much so that over time HTTPS came to represent 30% of page-1 Google results and, just recently, came to represent over 50% of page-1 Google results.
This report comes to us from Dr. Peter J. Meyers, a marketing scientist at Moz who has steadily been keeping an eye on these growing figures. In reviewing the data behind the adoption rate and increasing number of HTTPS sites, he predicts that HTTPS sites could reach 65% of page-1 results by the end of 2017:
When asked if this increase would eventually result in a further algorithmic boost for HTTPS sites, Google said no, and that just a few months ago they visited the idea and decided against it. But while Google may not be upping the boost behind going HTTPS, there are certainly plenty of reasons that support why you should consider adopting it.
Why Sites Should Consider HTTPS
First and foremost, just because Google says there won’t be a greater algorithm boost for HTTPS sites now doesn’t mean there won’t be later. At this point in time, it seems like Google is pleased with the adoption rate of HTTPS and doesn’t really have to do anything further. However, there’s always a chance going forward that have an SSL certificate will be prioritized in an algorithm, and it’s better to play it safe than sorry.
Google algorithm boosts aside, we’ve talked about the importance of website security before. Any measure webmasters can take to protect their sites from hackers and spammers is a step in the right direction, and that includes going HTTPS. While it doesn’t make websites immune to all hackers, it does help prevent cyber attacks that stem from unsecure web server to browser connections. With the number of hacked sites up 32%, now more than ever is the time to take action and secure your website.
The benefit of going HTTPS goes beyond general website security though; it’s a matter of perception. More and more users look for HTTPS websites because Google Chrome, one of the most commonly used browsers, alerts and warns visitors when they end up on non-secure pages when the pages collect sensitive data. Users value browsing security and privacy, and if their browser is alerting them to a potentially unsecure website, they’re more likely to bounce.
Overall, websites have far more to gain by going HTTPS than they do to lose. The cost of an SSL certificate is cheap, sometimes free, and worth the visible security your website gains. With the majority of page-1 sites already being HTTPS, you might as well follow the trend.