As we all know by now, Google is giving a small rankings boost to sites using SSL and can show some scary no-go zone for sites without an SSL. In the past month, I’ve had a huge increase in the number of people asking me whether they should Have an SSL on their websites to increase their rankings or for security purposes.
As someone who has recently switched to sitewide SSL after years of using it only for certain pages, my answer is, “It depends.”
If you sell products? Defiantly. If you’re taking credit card payments directly on your website or collecting any user data, you definitely need SSL in place to encrypt your customers’ credit card information and user data like newsletter e-mail addresses.
If you offer memberships? Defiantly. If you run a membership site, free or paid, SSL are required. After all, your members are giving you their email addresses, names, and passwords, all of which they likely use on other sites. Do you really want to risk being responsible for a security breach that results in your members’ information being spread across the whole internet?
If your visitors submit sensitive information via forms? Defiantly. If your site’s visitors are submitting any personal information, documents, photos, etc. via forms on the site, you might consider SSL to keep that information safe.
If you want your site to be secure, Definitely. A SSL certificate secures your site with a protocol that in the form of a certificate that can be installed with any hosted domain to improve the security of your website
Trust. When I visit a site where I intend to make a purchase or pay an invoice, I’m looking for that green padlock whether I’m on the checkout page or not. Since quite a bit of money passes through my site, I want partners and clients to know their information is safe.
Experimentation. Just how painful is the transition to full SSL? Will I really see any increase in search traffic? I wanted to find out.
Future-proofing. In the next year, I’ll be launching a number of new projects, products, and services that will require SSL across a few subdomains. I figured it was better to figure that out now than to wait until the week before launch.
All that said, the process of moving my site toward universal SSL was not an easy one, and I absolutely recommend against it unless you have a real reason for doing so. (In case you’re wondering, “Because Google said so” isn’t a real reason.)
Nine months after the switch, I’ve had a noticeable increase in search traffic here on the site. However, since my traffic wasn’t terribly impressive in the first place, I’m not sure how much stock I put in sitewide SSL as a guarantee of improved rankings. I’ve also made a number of other changes that could account for the higher numbers. My verdict? SSL can’t hurt (if it’s implemented properly), but content will always be king. The main reason for an SSL Certificate is for security for you and your clients.