To SSL or not to SSL your website
With all the recent movement in Internet legislation such as SOPA and the eavesdropping on higher profile politicians by the NSA, Google has come out in trying to influence the web in getting website owners to secure information between themselves and their clients. Google has made subtle changes to their ranking algorithm and now admits that a website having a HTTPS certificate will rank higher than ones that don't.
HTTPS is also known as HTTP (Website protocol) over TLS, (Transport Lay Security).
What's in it for me?
This question really depends on what side of the fence you're sitting on. If you're a customer you'll want your interaction with pages and forms to be completely secure so that nobody except you and the company you're engaging with knows of the data you've shared. Secure information flowing from your browser to a website is encrypted and is safe from prying eyes.
From a web master perspective having the extra traffic being directed will improve your company's bottom line. Google takes into accounts wide variety of ranking signals to decide where your website should be placed in the organic listings. This SSL ranking change will be marginal as Google still considers website content to be the defining ranking factor. The higher the quality of content of a website the more likely it'll will service Google's customers needs.
Some basic tips to be aware of;
- Decide whether you'd like a website specific or wildcard SSL certificate.
- Use SSL certificates that are equal or higher than 2048-bit keys
- Ensure that you use a redirect HTTP 301 to let Google know of your SSL change
- Don’t block your HTTPS site from being crawled but insuring your robots.txt is open
- Allow the indexing of all relevant pages
In order to test your website to ensure that it's fully secure, a webmaster can use the following tool; Qualys Lab tool.
Google is trying to ensure safer website surfing and may up the requirement for a SSL certificate strength in the near future. But for now a move to SSL certificates across the board is a positive step in securing personal meta-data.