What Does Https Stand For?
You may have noticed the abbreviation Http (for Hypertext Transfer Protocol) when searching on a search engine like Google. This is the beginning of a URL in the results and is also displayed in your browser. It is a communication protocol that is also available in a secure version, the Https (S for Security). Sites operating in Https guarantee Internet users a secure connection with data encryption. Webmasters need to get an SSL certificate, which is shown by the small padlock you may have seen in your browser before the beginning of a web address.
The protection of information exchanges between the user and the server is based on 3 distinct layers. First, encryption prevents monitoring of user activity by a third party and interception of information as it transfers. Next, the protocol guarantees the integrity of the data, meaning it prevents file corruption during transfer. Finally, authentication provides protection against possible malicious attacks and promotes user trust in the website.
Influence of Https on SEO according to Google
The company Mountain View announced that secure websites were favored in search results for the first time in August 2014. But this only affected 1% of search queries at the time. A year later, Google explained that Https is likely to make a difference in visibility between a secure platform and a website that does not encrypt visitor connection information. However, they specify that this parameter is an advantage only if the two websites are equal in terms of the other SEO signals used by the algorithm.
Secure sites dominate top results
Less than 1% of accessible websites used Https in 2017. However, 4 of 10 search results on each Google first page are from secure platforms. How can we explain this inconsistency? This should not be considered as definite proof that Https has a very significant impact on SEO. The top positioned websites combine the best of the following characteristics: age, content with high added value, relevant optimization, notoriety on social media, fast loading pages, secure connection etc.
What do SEO experts around the world think?
Ahrefs members specializing in link monitoring participated in a study that showed a moderate correlation between advantageous positioning in organic results and secure sites. Moz, the leading SEO company in the United States, has also identified this link, combined with other positioning factors, confirming that the Https protocol can be an asset, but does not in itself represent a major parameter in Google visibility.
Attracting users and improving sales
Migrating your site to a secure version gives you a better chance of increasing your audience, since you are mechanically more likely to appear in the first search results. Users are also more likely to consider a secure address as a trusted address, and thus are more likely to click on the secure page. Remember that your positioning on the result pages is also determined by your click rate. Internet users’ perceptions greatly influence their behavior. This is even more the case for commercial sites, which should absolutely make the switch to Https or risk losing their potential customers to the competition. According to a survey conducted by Global Sign, 84% of users would not make it to the point of paying for their order if the platform did not protect the transaction. A large majority of them are also afraid that their personal data will be stolen on the Internet.
Real consequences for SEO?
Chrome, a browser increasingly popular with Internet users, will also more clearly stigmatize platforms that are not secure by displaying a red triangle next to Http addresses (image below). Still not sure if you need to adopt this protocol? Forget your website for a few seconds and imagine yourself as a salesperson in a physical store.
If a customer is worried about something, you would of course look for a solution to address their concern. You need to react the same way on the web, creating the best browsing environment possible for visitors. Although Https has only a moderate impact on search results, like page loading, it can have many indirect consequences on SEO.