Google Announces New Factor in Search Rankings: SSL Encryption
Google is once again changing the algorithm that determines what results show at the top of its search rankings, but this time it is hoping to coax the Internet into a more secure future. Google announced in mid-August that it is going to slowly start rewarding websites that use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption with better search results and higher rankings. SSL is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client—typically a web server (website) and a browser. It is an important part of online security and will soon affect Google rankings as well.
Showing up at the top of a Google search result page is critical to many businesses. Indeed, it is so critical that a whole Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry has grown up around the idea of feeding Google and Bing (the MSFT Google competitor) with optimized website content that aspires to hit the Google search algorithm perfectly, resulting in a top search result.
Unless you were fortunate enough to acquire cpa.com or cityofla.org or are running a massive marketing campaign it is unlikely that you will generate much traffic for your business through people simply knowing your URL. When people are looking for a CPA, or a florist, or a mechanic, or anything really, the place they start is a search engine (Google/Bing/Yahoo). If your organization’s website comes up on the third page of search results, odds are, you won’t see very much traffic to your site and it’s that kind of traffic that generates new business. While marketing to existing clients is important, no business can survive without new clients, and thus, search results matter.
This is not the first time Google has sought to impact security and performance on the Internet. For a while now, Google has rewarded websites that are quick to deliver web pages. Google also shuns malware sites or sites that are viewed as infected or compromised by Google’s detection tools. All this has motivated those with an online presence to beef up their host performance and improve their website security.
This latest move to reward SSL encrypted sites will further serve to enhance overall Internet security by ensuring the sites people arrive on are indeed the site they were seeking and not a compromised site arrived at by a nefarious DNS override or a man-in-the-middle intrusion. For most companies, implementing the SSL certificate across their website will just be a matter of acquiring the SSL Cert and applying it to their webserver. Most hosting companies will offer to do this for a fee of less than $100 a year.
So with that said, here are the four tips to increase you site security and reap the benefits of Google smiling upon your website.
- Pay for a quality webhost that offers solid performance and does not overload their webservers. Ideally, use a webhost with expertise in your particularly website platform or framework.
- Use caching on your website and solutions like Amazon S3 to aid performance through content distribution networks. This will speed up performance significantly.
- Run SSL across your entire website. Talk to your web hosting provider about purchasing an SSL cert from a reputable provider. The hosting provider can usually manage the application of the SSL cert to your webserver.
- Stay current on the software that your website framework is built on. Bugs come up, security holes appear, but staying up on the latest and greatest will reduce the risk of hacking. Frameworks like Joomla, WordPress (a TSA favorite), Modx, and DotNetNuke all require updates from time to time. Test updates to ensure your site does not “break” after the updates are applied.
We know our fair share about this issue and are happy to help out if you have questions. Give us a call for suggestions or for a review of your website’s situation.
If you are an existing TSA client and we are hosting your website, an SSL certificate for your site is relatively smooth for us to implement.