Things change. And the technicalities behind online marketing are no exception. The Internet has provided many powerful tools for businesses to employ. Among those tools are SSL and SEO, both teaming up hand-in-hand to amplify a website. According to entrepreneur.com, “SEO serves as the blood and fuel of all online marketing because search engine results are the places where the money lies.” By developing and maintaining a reliable SEO strategy in combination with protection provided by SSL, a website can be catapulted to the top of search engine results organically. What is SSL and Why is it Used? To put it simply, SSL is the backbone of making the Internet secure, and it is essential in protecting your website. Standing for Secure Sockets Layer, SSL first came onto the scene in 1995 as a means of encrypting data and establishing security. When data is passed along the Internet from computer to computer, SSL ensures privacy and provides critical security and data integrity from hackers and identity thieves. To boot, it maintains confidentiality. In doing so, it provides authentication and data encryption between applications, machines, and servers between a web server and a browser. This occurs every time you connect to the Internet. There are no limits when it comes to SSL and what it protects. In fact, all types of data are secured: credit cards, email addresses, file sharing, usernames and passwords, webmail servers, and other sensitive information. Keep in mind, without an SSL certificate, a third party computer could hijack your sensitive information. How to Tell a Website is Secure with SSL Luckily, a secure SSL requires little to no effort on the user end of the spectrum. It is a relatively transparent protocol, and you can easily tell if a website is using SSL or not. Pay attention to the green padlock and green address bar showing the URL as HTTPS (the “S” stands for “secure”) and not HTTP: In this case, because example.com is operating without an SSL certificate, the website is deemed insecure by web browser standards. Advantages of SSL Beyond encrypting sensitive private data, a proper SSL certificate can provide authentication. When sending information, you want to have it sent to the correct server and not to an imposter, hacker, or identity thief trying to run off with your sensitive information. That is why it is important to establish your website with a proper SSL certificate from a trusted SSL provider. A trusted SSL will only assign an SSL certificate to a verified company. To establish a company’s credibility, the provider will have to run several identity checks. Moreover, there are varying types of certificates that require even more validation than meets the eye. A proper SSL certificate is also a means of establishing trust as most web browsers give visual cues to its users that a website is certified. For instance, you may see a padlock icon or the address bar green. This ensures trust in that the connection is secure. Finally, in order to accept credit card information through your website, you must personally go through a certain set of audits and comply with Payment Card Industry standards, or PCI Compliance. Disadvantages of SSL In the instance of SSL, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Yet it is essential to point out one of the biggest: the cost. When a trusted SSL provider, such as 101domain, runs its audits to validate your identity and sets up a trusted infrastructure, there is a cost to it. There are some free entry-level SSL certificates like Google’s Let’s Encrypt, however, these are not recommended for business websites that accept personally identifiable information. Additionally, performance is another disadvantage. When encrypted information is sent from computer to computer by the web server, the server requires more resources than it would need if the information was not encrypted. However, this is typically only an issue for particularly popular websites with a large volume of visitors (This can be easily minimized with special hardware, but that inevitably costs more money). What is SEO and Why Does it Matter? Search engines may be getting smarter, but with the power of SEO, you can optimize this process and learn to leverage its power for your own benefit. SEO is equally, if not more, important than having an SSL certificate, particularly if we’re exclusively discussing what will get your site more traffic. Standing for “Search Engine Optimization,” SEO handles the process of increasing the quality and quantity of a website’s traffic in addition to its exposure through non-paid (not advertising), or “organic,” search engine results. The process of SEO is one of duality. Focusing on both people and search engines, it seeks to understand what drives people’s searches, the answers they are looking for (also known as user intent), why they use the specific words they are using (known as “keywords” or “KWs” for short), as well as the different types of content they are striving to consume. Because of the knowledge SEO offers, it is useful in allowing a website to connect to its users. As ironic as it sounds, SEO is largely about mapping a user’s brain to create the data necessary to help sites make authentic connections with their intended audience. As it stands, most online web traffic is due to search engines and not paid advertising or social media among others. When your website is correctly optimized with SEO, not only will it give it a higher ranking within search results, but your web traffic will also increase, contrary to typical advertising which requires funding to send traffic to your website (read more here). What is more, all major search engines primarily rank websites based on what the search engine considers most relevant to the users. Major search engines include Google, Bing, and Yahoo. But, in the SEO world, there is a heavy focus on Google in particular. But why is that? As Statcounter reports, Google was the search engine of choice for 92% of all searches worldwide between Sept. 2018 – September 2019. See below for a visual representation of the gap between Google and the next 5 largest search engines. By optimizing your website, search engines will be able to better serve you to audiences who will find your content relevant. In effect, this properly indexes your website and displays it higher in search results. How do SSL and SEO help a website’s organic ranking? As previously mentioned, SSL secures information between a user and a website. A well-implemented SEO strategy can boost a website’s ranking in search engine results. When these come together, a website may receive a ranking boost compared to a non-SSL enabled website, Google publicly stated. In fact, SSL has now been adapted into Google’s search ranking algorithm. As announced on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, “Over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.” Though this slight ranking boost may be relatively minor, there are several indirect benefits to adapting a secure SSL and SEO strategy. To start: bounce rate. This refers to the percentage of people who click onto a website and immediately leave. If a site is not secured by a proper SSL certificate, a user sees a “Not Secure” flag at the top of the screen, which can leave customers with a low sense of trust and search elsewhere for a similar service. Google’s algorithm has found that “unsecured websites don’t provide good user experience,” as stated by Medium. And by having an unsecured website, “people leaving the website after seeing an unsecured message would show to Google that this website is not worthy of being ranked high for that keyword.” Needless to say, this has a negative impact on a website’s overall rankings. But, with a proper SSL certificate (and relevant content), users tend to stay on a website longer, because they feel secure and trusting of the website. In Conclusion As we have come to find out, implementing SSL and SEO not only improves search rankings but improves user experience. It is a process of duality: optimizing what drives people and search engines. When a user’s private data is encrypted and secured and hackers are unable to attack web server traffic, it is easy to understand the vitality of a proper SSL certificate. It leads a user to feel safe and secure, which in turn develops a sense of trust. When a user trusts a website, they stay, signaling to Google a higher trust rating and user experience, thus boosting a website’s overall search engine ranking. To conclude, SSL and SEO are powerful tools and are vital to organically boosting your online presence.