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Don't Buy Into the SEO Hype Around HTTPS & SSL

While there has been a substantial rise in adoption of SSL (secure socket layer) certificates over the past few years (the technology used for establishing an encrypted connection between server and client) it does not seem to have had that much of an impact on search engine optimization campaign performance despite the suggestion it might.

But that depends on what data is being viewed, the keywords and digital presence marketers are optimizing for and the websites they are competing against.

Moz' Pete Meyer, for example, reported that according to his company's keyword tracking tools, half of page one search results at Google show HTTPS URLs - that's up from 30 percent of the results in July 2016. Based on this trend, according to Meyer, 70 percent of the page one search results could be HTTPS by the end of the year.

RankRanger, another tool popular among SEO professionals, reported similar results for Google's first page - about 50 percent for HTTPS URLs.

Results, however, seems to vary - and if they do indeed vary, can SEO's expect that Google will continue to increase the strength of this ranking signal?

Our own internal tests at Website Magazine, for example, provided far different results - just 15 percent of sites had an SSL in place.

What this means, of course, is that the presence of an SSL on a website likely varies dramatically by keyword and industry, so consider engaging in research for the keywords you're currently optimizing for to make your own determination of how Google's SSL-related algorithm may be impacting your website's SEO initiative today. 

One of the shortcomings of the Moz report is that while the Moz system did check for the presence of an SSL, it did not confirm that it was implemented correctly. Mixed content warnings, for example, seem to be on the rise and a much more common sight within the browser address bar for consumers. That makes many wonder if Google is really going to give a "boost" to sites with SSLs but which have errors and warnings related to their implementation.

While it's impossible to deny the benefits of having an SSL (and one that works properly), don't count on SEO ranking improvements just by doing so in the future. 


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