What is SSL?
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer, a standard encryption technology used to transfer data from a user’s browser to the web server. Websites use SSL encryption to prevent hackers to intercept and misuse the data users leave on a website (via checkout pages, as well as registration or contact forms). SSL largely functions using public and private encryption keys, out of which the former is used to scramble the information, while the latter decrypts it so that it could be read by someone monitoring the transmission.
On a website, the secure transfer via a standard SSL certificate is marked with https:// in front of the website URL in the address bar, as opposed to http:// that represents a standard protocol on websites that do not use SSL. When a person visits a https:// page, therefore, his or her communications, data and transactions are safe from potential information skimming or sniffing. Quite logically, this is particularly important for company and ecommerce websites that collect personal information, where the use of SSL certificates is a matter of corporate credibility.
So what Does Google think?
Namely, last year Google introduced HTTPS as a lightweight search signal in an attempt to raise awareness of online security issues and encourage more webmasters to get SSL certificates for their websites. The idea was to make the web a safer place by ensuring secure server connections and maximum privacy for online users. With this goal still in focus, Google decided to further improve online safety by allowing search engines to crawl HTTPS pages by default. As announced on Google Online Security blog earlier in December, the company is making a major step in enabling the HTTPS Everywhere idea to actually happen:
“Today we’d like to announce that we’re adjusting our indexing system to look for more HTTPS pages. Specifically, we’ll start crawling HTTPS equivalents of HTTP pages, even when the former are not linked to from any page.”
With billions of commercial websites now serving the global market and collecting users’ personal data in one form or another, employing sufficient security practices is essential for a successful digital strategy. One of the most important web security measures, SSL has been long established as an industry standard in the US and other countries, now gaining more attention as one of Google’s search ranking factors. For the SEO world, this means that more webmasters will need to consider improving their website security practices and thus directly improve users’ experience.