As leaders in the search engine industry, Google have a lot of power when it comes to deciding the importance of one factor or another in search engine optimisation. Their latest interest is in creating a safer internet for everyone, and so the importance of security for SEO has become one of the newest factors that online businesses and websites must consider. Making your website more secure could have an impact on its performance, so it’s important to take a look at what security measures are available, how important they are, and why. We’ll also be looking at the various benefits of securing your website that don’t directly impact Google rankings, but do directly impact your website’s performance and the way in which your company is perceived. There’s more to securing and improving your website than just impressing Google. Mostly, it’s about impressing your customers.
Google’s behaviour is always one of the first places people look for what counts as search engine optimisation. In this case, the benefits of security are Google’s offering of a minor (very minor) ranking improvement, compared to your same site without one. When the ranking factor was first announced, the internet exploded with enthusiasm for HTTPS security, but it’s important to take a reserved and measured look at what this actually means.
For a start, Google’s own admission is that the ranking factor is a very small one. This means that it might not even improve your rankings compared to where they were before, in terms of your position on a page. It especially means that you won’t suddenly start ranking number one just because you’ve secured your site. Secondly, it’s also important to note that, especially after Google’s announcement, a majority of websites are now HTTPS secured. Any ranking benefit you gain from security is a ranking benefit almost every other site has, so it doesn’t help you get a leg up on your competition. If anything, it’s more like a punishment for not securing your site, but still only a very minor one.
With that said, HTTPS is quick and easy to implement, and there’s really no disadvantage to doing so. Since it does have some minor benefits with Google, it’s a definite recommendation. However, it’s worth talking about what the actual benefits of a secure site are, rather than focusing on this relatively minor announcement of Google’s.
As with any change you make to your website, and any recommendation that we and other reputable SEO specialists make, your first priority is always pleasing your end user. With that in mind, let’s talk about how securing your site gives web users a sense of security and comfort, and helps create a more loyal and happy user base that will help your business improve regardless of search engines.
There are a number of reasons that having an HTTPS secured site adds to people’s feelings of trust and security. For a start, as you may have noticed, sites that are SSL secured are recognised as such by your browser (Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox, Chrome etc.) and this will show in the address bar, usually as a green padlock. Even if your user doesn’t know about SSL security, or what exactly it does, the extra positivity and approval gained from even this small icon are a huge bonus to how they perceive your site. Even when you’re not actively thinking about it, the approval of a site from your browser has a big effect on first impressions.
Secondly, when users are aware that your site is secure, they are more willing to use it on a regular basis, especially if your site requires a sign-in, or handles money. Although your site will always have security on payment pages, the extra security on a sitewide basis only adds to this feeling of security, making your users much happier to use your site. As your site gets more use, it gains becomes more attractive to search engines and other bots, which makes it more likely to be found again by more users. It can also encourage your users to recommend your site personally, if it’s one that they enjoy using, to their own acquaintances.
As ever in SEO, the real goal is to please the end user, and securing your site is a big step in encouraging a safer feeling user who is more valuable to you as a whole.
Of course, if nothing else, there are plenty of personal benefit to having a more secure site. Although you may not think of this specifically as SEO, the performance of your site on the internet and search engines is definitely hampered if your site has a security breach. Someone hacking into your site and harvesting your clients’ data, or replacing your site with their own, not only has an immediate effect, but also affects the view of your site in future, both in people’s minds and in the way that search engines view it.
Common attacks on a site include using your domain to host a website that isn’t actually your own, which confuses your customers and has a negative effect on your metrics, such as bounce rate in particular. Of course, this will affect the public view of you, but it will also affect the way you are treated by search engines, which treat you as a less relevant or less secure site.
Even if these long term effects didn’t exist, even the short term negative effects of a security breach are devastating. For as long as your site is offline, you have no online presence. An ecommerce site loses money directly, and other sites lose potential enquiries as well as prestige. A hack that harvests your site’s data and then uses it maliciously also faces potential lawsuits which have obvious negative consequences.
For such a quick and simple procedure, securing your website has plenty of benefits, both for regular SEO and for plenty of other practical reasons. If your site isn’t already secured, you should look into doing so immediately.
Novi.Digital can add a security certificate to your site for just £100 + VAT, and make sure that it doesn’t run out. Call us now on 01524 566736 to discuss in more detail, or email us at [email protected].
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