Does adding an SSL really boost ranking ?

JimFranco

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I know they are pretty much needed today. But, has anyone seen any website actually get a boost from having an ssl ?
 

djbaxter

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I think it is a small ranking factor at this point but probably easily outweighed by other more important ranking factors:

Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: HTTPS as a ranking signal
August 6, 2014

We've seen positive results, so we're starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it's only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.
Google's Gary Illyes: HTTPS May Break Ties Between Two Equal Search Results - Search Engine Land
September 15, 2015

Google’s Gary Illyes said Monday that the company’s HTTPS ranking boost may serve as a tiebreaker when the quality signals for two search results are otherwise equal.
HTTPS: just a Google ranking signal?
May 11, 2017

HTTPS was officially acknowledged as a ranking signal in 2014. Since then people have been discussing the strength of this signal and its contribution to the higher rankings. At some point Google agreed that it has boosted rewards for secure websites; however, a recent tweet by Gary Illyes to Pete Meyers makes it clear that Google is not going to increase the weight of this factor anymore. Also, Backlinko’s research shows very little correlation between traffic being encrypted and the page ranking higher on Google SERPs
On the other hand, some people have observed that SSL sites are dominating page 1 of Google organic SERPs:

Half of Page-1 Google Results Are Now HTTPS - Moz
April 24th, 2017

Just over 9 months ago, I wrote that 30% of page-1 Google results in our 10,000-keyword tracking set were secure (HTTPS). As of earlier this week, that number topped 50%.

While there haven't been any big jumps recently – suggesting this change is due to steady adoption of HTTPS and not a major algorithm update – the end result of a year of small changes is dramatic. More and more Google results are secure.
NOT having SSL may serve as kind of a negative ranking signal, for a couple of reasons:

  • Google may devalue non-SSL pages when SSL pages oin the same topic are available (see the "tie breaker" comment by Gary Illyes above).
  • With all major browsers now flagging web pages as secure ("trusted" in the eyes of many consumers) or non-secure ("not trusted"), there may be increases traffic to SSL sites compared to non-SSL sites, and this might help to the extent that traffic may have a small effect on rankings.
But ultimately, even if it has little to no direct effect on ranking, I think there is little argument that it probably has a positive effect on traffic compared to your competitors who are stubbornly resisting the switch (and there are more than a few of those in some industries).

And isn't traffic the bottom line really?
 

JimFranco

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great information thank you. But, has anyone actually witness a boost ?


My website actually dropped in rank when I added https though I did follow all the best practices. I know sometimes it takes a while to bounce back and its only a few days. But, I wonder if it will improve at all.
 

djbaxter

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great information thank you. But, has anyone actually witness a boost ?
I haven't personally.

My website actually dropped in rank when I added https though I did follow all the best practices. I know sometimes it takes a while to bounce back and its only a few days. But, I wonder if it will improve at all.
That's common. Depending on the site (and how often Google is crawling it), it can take up to 3 months to get the new URLs indexed and for the old ones to drop off, assuming you have all your 301 redirects in place correctly.

It can probably help to ensure that you have submitted a new site map after the changeover.
 

Jim Froling

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Not having a SSL certificate will almost certainly affect traffic in September when Google starts warning users that a site is not secure.
 
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djbaxter

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Really, most browsers are already doing that in various ways and have been for some time.
 
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I read the Chrome update would make the notice red. That will be different and get some attention. I thought it was gunna happen in July 2018. September you say. Hmmm...
 

djbaxter

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Google Online Security Blog: A secure web is here to stay
February 8, 2018

Beginning in July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”.
Emphasis added.

I don't know where the September date came from.

However, my current Chrome version is 67.

It appears that version 68 is still in beta.

But it's still not the end of July yet. :)
 

Patrick Garde

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In our experience with one of our clients, they hover on the bottom of page 1 without SSL. As soon as we activated their SSL via Let's Encrypt on their hosting account, their rankings improve to top 3-5.
 
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It really depends on the industry, location, size of the business, etc... If no one else in your market has an SSL, then sure it could show a positive improvement by adding one. At this point in the game it's a requirement as all browsers move to showing "not secure" for sites that do not have one.

Basically, if most other sites within the SERP you're trying to attack have an SSL then it's going to be a very small improvement... if any. If you don't have one and everyone else does then you're dead if you don't get it updated.

Migrating to SSL could also completely destroy your rankings if you botch the migration.

Asking whether it's a ranking boost is irrelevant at this point in time. You need to have it, otherwise users will not trust your site... especially if you keep getting flagged as "not secure" in browsers. Get a free Let's Encrypt certificate and move forward.
 

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