SSL Certificates and SEO: How to Optimize for Search Engine Visibility

Search engine optimization is a moving target – Google’s algorithms change constantly. However, one constant for boosting your SEO is adopting HTTPS and SSL certificates on your website. According to Google’s Transparency Report, over 89% of pages loaded by Chrome now use HTTPS. This article will explore how SSL certificates impact SEO and website visibility and provide best practices for implementation.

What Are SSL Certificates?

First, a quick primer on SSL certificates and how they work. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates are small data files installed on web servers that enable website encryption. With SSL installed, websites can use the HTTPS protocol and have secure padlock icons in the browser address bar.

The certificates verify the website’s identity and facilitate secure HTTPS connections. The data exchanged between servers and browsers gets encrypted, which protects sensitive information from prying eyes. Leading certificate authorities like issue and validate different SSL certificates to websites and organizations.

Why HTTPS and SSL Certificates Matter for SEO

Google has long stated that switching to HTTPS is a ranking signal and best practice. The main SEO benefits include:

  • Encryption establishes trust and confidence in website visitors. Google wants to send users to secure sites.
  • HTTPS prevents keyword sniffing by ISPs and visitors on public Wi-Fi. Google sees HTTPS sites as more legitimate.
  • Adopting HTTPS aligns with Google’s recommendations for all websites to use encryption. Websites without HTTPS may get labeled as “not secure” by browsers.
  • Chrome and browsers now label HTTP sites as “not secure” which damages credibility.
  • HTTPS websites gain marginal ranking increases over HTTP counterparts. Studies show a slight visibility boost.

Beyond SEO, HTTPS unlocks modern web features like geolocation, service workers, and new JS APIs. It paves the way for technologies like HTTP/2 and AMP to improve performance. Visitors expect secure encryption as a norm, so there is also a trust and PR benefit.

Best Practices for Implementing HTTPS

Migrating to HTTPS requires more than just purchasing an SSL certificate. Here are the best practices to follow:

  • Obtain a valid SSL certificate from a trusted certificate authority. Extended validation certificates provide maximum trust.
  • Properly install the SSL certificate on your hosting server or CDN service. The process varies by platform.
  • Redirect all HTTP pages and traffic to HTTPS using 308 permanent redirects. This passes link equity.
  • Update all unsecure links and references in site code and templates to use HTTPS URLs.
  • Ensure website elements like images, CSS, and JS files load over HTTPS without mixed content errors.
  • Consider optimizing page speed elements like caching for the slight overhead of HTTPS.
  • Enable HSTS and other security HTTP response headers like CSP for enhanced protection.
  • Following these steps ensures visitors, search engines, and browsers see your site as fully HTTPS enabled. Take care to avoid common pitfalls like missing redirects or mixed content issues.

Optimizing Website for HTTPS Beyond SEO

Adopting SSL certificates provides search visibility benefits but also improves general user experience. With HTTPS fully implemented, focus on:

  • Checking for mixed content errors and resolve them by updating HTTP references. This ensures all website assets load securely.
  • Enabling HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) to instruct browsers to only connect via HTTPS. It strengthens security against man-in-the-middle attacks.
  • Configuring other HTTP security headers like Content Security Policy (CSP) to lock down website elements and prevent cross-site scripting attacks.
  • Using the HTTPS versions of third-party tracking codes and analytics snippets. Services like Google Analytics provide secure code.
  • Updating sitemaps and robots.txt files to point crawlers toward HTTPS URL versions of all pages.

These technical recommendations create a fast, secure HTTPS website primed for search visibility. Visitors notice the padlock icon and modern security protections.

Check out our product overview page to learn more about SSL certificates and take the first steps to migrate your site to HTTPS. Our simple purchase process and support team make HTTPS adoption easy.


The Benefits Go Beyond SEO

While SEO is a major motivation to upgrade to HTTPS, it is not the only benefit. Enabling SSL provides:

  • A trusted and credible website in the eyes of visitors. HTTPS signals security and progressive thinking.
  • Ability to implement new browser features like geolocation, WebUSB, Web Share API, and more which require HTTPS.
  • Compliance with industry best practices and security regulations in finance, healthcare, and government.
  • A fast, modern platform for next-generation web capabilities like HTTP/2 and AMP to enhance performance.
  • Standing out as a forward-thinking brand that prioritizes security and privacy for customers.

Switching to HTTPS shows commitment to visitors beyond search engine preference. Given the minimal cost of domain-validated certificates at around $49 per year at, every website should adopt HTTPS today.

Maximize your Customer Trust with HTTPS

As Google continues its push for an all-HTTPS web, adopting SSL certificates provides search visibility benefits. More importantly, HTTPS encryption creates trusted sites that protect visitors.

Implementing HTTPS requires technical diligence to avoid mixed content errors and redirect HTTP pages. With some optimization, HTTPS delivers a better user experience beyond SEO, unlocking new features and building trust.


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