SSL certificate does not increase SEO


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Google’s John Mueller refuted the claim that an SSL certificate would “boost” a website’s SEO by stating unequivocally that an SSL certificate does not boost SEO.

Post on Mastodon about SSL and SEO

The encounter happened on Mastodon, where a member named EncryptedFence posted the following:

“Boost SEO and website reputation with a must-have security measure: SSL Certificate – https://certerassl.com/blog/ssl-a-must-have-security-measure-for-websites-seo

Don’t miss out on the benefits! Get an SSL certificate today and protect your website.”

John Mueller, Senior Search Analyst/Search Relations Lead at Google, replied:

“@EncryptedFence, that doesn’t boost your site’s SEO,” sorry.”

SSL certificate not increasing SEO?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is an encrypted communication standard (also known as a protocol) for secure Internet connections.

An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that certifies (authenticates) the identity of a website and certifies that a browser is connecting to the correct server.

The SSL certificate plays an important role in the secure transmission of data on the Internet.

Google encourages HTTPS

Google has provided a major impetus to get the internet to deliver data securely for a variety of reasons, primarily user security and privacy concerns.

A stumbling block to adopting HTTPS was the process of obtaining an SSL certificate as it was somewhat technical and confusing.

Many publishers chose to wait before rolling out the standard as it seemed unnecessary for sites not involved in conducting financial transactions.

Google responded by making HTTPS a ranking factor in 2014, incentivizing adoption of secure standards.

Google suggests potentially making HTTPS a stronger signal

Google encouraged the SEO community by promising to potentially make HTTPS a stronger ranking factor.

Google wrote in 2014:

“At Google I/O a few months ago, we called for HTTPS everywhere on the web.

We’ve also seen more and more webmasters using HTTPS (aka HTTP over TLS, or Transport Layer Security) on their site, which is encouraging.

For these reasons, we’ve been running tests over the last few months to check whether websites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms.

We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. At the moment it is a very light signal – it affects less than 1% of global queries and carries less weight than other signals such as B. Quality content – while giving webmasters time to move to HTTPS.

But over time we may decide to strengthen it as we want to encourage all site owners to make the switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone on the web safe.”

Google said they may decide to boost HTTPS signal.

The immediate and widespread adoption of HTTPs essentially resulted in the SEO community responding, “I’m sticking to you!”

The response was overwhelmingly positive, and SSL Certificates were flying off digital shelves like discounted TVs on Black Friday.

Won’t SSL Improve Your SEO?

If HTTPS is a ranking factor, why does John Mueller claim that SSL certificates don’t boost search engine optimization?

After all, a ranking factor is a criterion that Google uses to decide whether a website ranks for a search query or not.

It follows that anything that is a ranking factor boosts search engine optimization, right?

Well, that’s not the case.

Some ranking factors like HTTPS are extremely lightweight.

Everyone agrees that links from other websites are an important ranking factor.

So, it’s not an exaggeration to accept the fact that other ranking factors are so insignificant that they play a minimal role in determining a website’s high ranking.

Another consideration about HTTPS as a weak SEO boost is that virtually every website uses HTTPS these days.

This results in essentially negating any ranking bonus that results from using HTTPS.

Google’s John Mueller repeatedly commented on the relative weakness of the HTTPS ranking signal on this point.

For example, in 2019 he answered a question about SSL certificates where a company claimed that not having a certificate would cause Google to remove a website from Google search results.

The claim was:

“Without an SSL certificate, Google will likely remove your site from search results.”

miller answered:

“Yes, that is wrong.

HTTPS plays no role at all in deciding whether or not to index a page.

We use HTTPS as an easy ranking factor and HTTPS is great for users.

A free certificate from Let’s Encrypt works just as well.”

Again with the nuances of SEO…

There is a lot of confusion about HTTPS as a ranking factor.

Some people claimed it was a deciding factor, all else being equal. Despite HTTPS being so widely used these days, it’s hard to imagine what connection it could possibly break.

It’s probably easier to understand considering that links that can be a strong signal can also present other factors like HTTPS as a weak signal with no real SEO boost.

Featured image from Shutterstock/Ollyy

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