An announcement from Google about issues that can affect search engine rankings has the power to keep people awake at night.
Google announced that they now include whether a site uses HTTPS/SSL in their ranking algorithm. There are probably thousands of webmasters scurrying to purchase SSL certificates for their clients' websites. In the near future, I expect a lot of spammy messages from domain registrars suggesting that their clients purchase SSL certificates so they can improve their rankings in Google.
This announcement means little to the vast majority of website owners.
- It will have low impact. Google said it is "only a very lightweight signal". There are more important things you can do to boost your search engine positioning than purchasing an SSL certificate for your site.
- It has a narrow focus. Google also says this change will have an impact on "fewer than 1% of global queries".
- Improper SSL application can hurt your site. Properly implementing HTTPS on your whole site will require testing, testing and more testing to get it right. Images, videos and content hosted by other sites may be blocked or will otherwise trigger a security warning to be displayed to your site visitors.
In my opinion, the vast majority of website owners do little to get better rankings in Google on a regular basis. The fact that Google is now factoring in HTTPS/SSL in their algorithm is interesting, but not interesting enough that I think site owners should be investing in security certificates in droves. There are many more important and effective things site owners could be doing to get more traffic to their websites.
For those wondering what some of those things are, here's a short list of items webmasters should be doing regularly if they care about their search engine rankings and/or getting more traffic to their websites.
- Add quality content to your website.
- Attract quality inbound links.
- Marketing the heck out of the content you've worked so hard to create.
If you're not doing at least one of those three things regularly, you don't need to worry about this latest change at Google. Simply put, you have more pressing things to concern yourself with. Covering the basics well before worrying about the more esoteric changes at Google will bring you more results than rushing out and installing an SSL certificate tomorrow.