Online security is a big deal, and Internet users are more wary than ever about the sites they access. And why wouldn’t they be? Cyber crime is on the rise. In fact, a study from Javelin Strategy & Research, “found that $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016, compared with $15.3 billion and 13.1 million victims a year earlier.”
The interesting thing is that this upswing in cyber crime has led to an undeniable correlation between online security and SEO. Allow me to explain.
HTTPS as a Ranking Signal
In 2014, Google announced they started using HTTPS as a ranking signal. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, it’s an acronym for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, which is a combination of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) with the Secure Socket Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. It utilizes encryption and authentification to increase data security and minimize the chances of information winding up in the wrong hands.
Although it was only deemed as a “light ranking signal” in 2014, it seems that it has grown in importance since then. According to research from Moz (a highly trusted SEO authority), “32.5 percent of page-1 Google results were using the “https:” protocol in June of 2016.
But that’s not all. Research from Let’s Encrypt found that “the running average crested the 50 percent HTTPS page load mark” in early 2017. This is tangible proof that online security and SEO have become heavily intertwined. Websites that take security seriously and make the switch to HTTPS tend to outperform others in search rankings than those who are still using traditional HTTP.
What to Expect Moving Forward
Google has made it clear that one of their main goals is to make the Internet and safer place and thwart cyber criminal activity. Over the next few years, it’s very likely that HTTPS will become an even bigger ranking signal. Not to say that your law firm’s search rankings are going to drop dramatically if you don’t use HTTPS, but it’s definitely not going to do you any favors. So it’s definitely something to consider in the near future. This is especially true if you process payments online or handle sensitive financial information.
Obtaining an SSL Certificate
In order to make the switch to HTTPS, you’ll need to obtain an SSL certificate. The process involves buying a certificate, activating it, installing it and updating your site to use HTTPS. Check out this resource for an in-depth breakdown of this process and for information on SSL providers. If you’re fairly tech-savvy and have a basic understanding of installing code, you should be able to handle this on your own. If not, you may want to consult a professional programmer to take care of it for you.
The bottom line is that Google is placing a major emphasis on cyber security. To accomplish this, they’ve tweaked their algorithm to reward secure websites. Therefore, there’s a growing correlation between online security and SEO. One way to appease Google and enhance your site’s online security is to switch from HTTP to HTTPS. Doing so should have a positive impact on your search rankings in the long run.
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