The use of HTTPS and the corresponding adoption of SSL certificates is an important development in the growth (and safety and security) of the Internet, but there are many sites that have yet to make the switch to a more secure protocol.
Let's say that a Web user has an affinity for Japanese culture. If this user searches for keywords including "
bento box recipes", "
bonsai tree care", and "
buy matcha tea", how many of the sites they encounter on the first page of listings at Google will have SSL in place? Let's perform a rather limited and unscientific study to find out.
Please note that these searches were conducted in incognito mode as to remove any effect of personalization.
What percent of first page listings (natural/organic listings) are from sites with an SSL?
KEYWORD PHRASE: Bento Box Ideas After a featured snippet section and a related search section, of the ten organic listings, just one of the top ten listings is using an SSL (and it's Pinterest). This search terms is obviously of an information seeking variety, so that may indicate that publishers have been slower to implement than retailers.
KEYWORD PHRASE: Bonsai Tree Care Another information related keyword, this search result is not totally unlike the previous. Two of the ten listings were from YouTube (so both have SSL) and just one other of the remaining eight listings had an SSL in place (and it was in the tenth position).
KEYWORD PHRASE: Buy Matcha Tea The trend seems to shift when the keyword in use is of a transactional nature such as "buy matcha tea" - but not dramatically. As with any query with commercial intent users are likely going to find the likes of Amazon and Walmart which both have SSL in place. Only one other natural/organic listing however had an SSL (and it was a site not even selling the product being sought).
What's the takeaway? SSL is important for success as it dramatically improves security (leaving enterprises with less of a security risk) and offers users some much needed peace of mind (which has been shown to correlate with higher spending on average). While Google and others have suggested that the presence of an SSL would serve as a ranking signal, a quick travel through the search results pages currently suggests otherwise.
Does that mean you should wait on implementing an SSL? It's our opinion that it doesn't. There are benefits of SSL and savvy brands realize that it is only a matter of time before search engine (i.e., Google) increases the SSL/HTTPS signal when ranking websites.
Digital marketing executive with proven experience in all aspects of search engine optimization (SEO), performance-based advertising, consumer-generated/social media, email marketing, lead generation, Web design, usability, and analytics. - 20-year Internet marketing veteran, currently serving as the Digital Marketing Campaign Manager at Antenna Group (formerly Chicago Digital). - Former Editor-In-Chief of Website Magazine, and a regular speaker on Web technology digital marketing strategy - Author of several books on digital marketing Including Web 360: The Fundamentals of Web Success; Affiliate 360: The Fundamentals of Performance Marketing; Domains 360: The Fundamentals of Buying & Selling Domain Names, and SEO 360: The Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization.