Bear with me, but I’m going to get a little technical with you. Take a look at your website in a web browser like Firefox, Safari or Chrome. Does it have an http: in front of it or an https:?. That one letter of difference could make a big difference in whether or not Google ranks your website well from now on.
Https: indicates that the website being viewed has a Secured Socket Layer, or SSL, which is a standard encryption technology used to transfer data from a user’s browser to the web server. Websites that use SSL encryption help prevent hackers from intercepting and misusing data that users leave on that website, which could be anything from a credit card number for a purchase or an email or physical address.
Google is now rewarding websites who use this SSL technology with higher search engine rankings because SSL protects those on the Internet with better online security and maximum privacy.
Last year, Google introduced HTTPS Everywhere, an initiative, a basic blueprint for web designers to follow in the years moving forward to have more successful websites. First announced at the 2014 Google I/O Conference, this initiative is designed to stimulate a wider adoption of HTTPS and highlight the significance of website security. What that means is that when someone does a Google search for practically anything, Google will index websites with SSL certification (those with the HTTPS in front of their domain name) higher than those without automatically.
So why should you care? If you’re gathering any information on your website from customers at all, you should already have an SSL certificate. If you don’t, Google will start to penalize you by placing you lower in the search engine rankings.
That’s the upside. Here’s the downside. Many web hosting companies are using the preference by Google for rankings sites with an SSL certificate by default as a new revenue stream. Nothing wrong with that, but there’s an option that won’t cost you a thing if you’re powering a WordPress website. It’s called FlyWheel (http://www.getflywheel.com), and it’s only $15 a month for hosting and the SSL certificate is FREE. Flywheel offers blazing fast speeds and nightly backups, and is specifically designed for WordPress hosting.
Or you can call your current host, which will be able to provide SSL certification for a nominal fee.
So maybe this year’s New Year’s resolution list should include making your site more Google friendly with HTTPS security. Safe and happy browsing ya’ll!