In our parent’s age, the only threats they had to worry about were local burglars, high cholesterol, and the occasional door to door salesman.

Today we live in the WWW (world wide web) which means our threats are also worldwide… rats. JPDA would never advise against adding a security certificate to your site, but we are going to cover how it relates to search engine rankings.

We are not experts on internet security, and we won’t claim to be. What we can help you with is show you how security impacts website rankings. 

Google and Security Certificate

If you have been keeping up with Google’s webmaster blog (we have), you would have seen an announcement a few years back. You would have read about how Google has given a ranking boost to sites that have an SSL certificate.

It’s not often when Google tells you exactly what they use to rank your site, but when they do, you should listen. Don’t just take our word for it, let’s dive into why below.

The Numbers

First, let’s dive into the data and then we will interpret it for you. We are going to use data from SEMRush’s report where they took 600k search queries then calculated the percentage of domains which use security certificates in the top 100 search engine ranking position.

The data is broken down between search volume and will categorize like we would clothes: XL, L, M, S.

SEMRush took it even further and broke the data down between short head and long-tail keywords.

If you’re unfamiliar with the terms, short head searches that are broad two-word searches and long tail searches are oddly specific that are three to five words.

An example of how to two differ would be “delicious coffee” vs. “Fairtrade delicious coffee Detroit.”

Let’s look at the search volume angle of this report. As you will see in the graph below in the XL search volume, the top five positions all have SSL certificates.

At levels of XL, L, and M 50% or greater web sites ranked at number one have SSL certificates. The S search level is sub 50%, and I’ll explain why I made it a point to point this out.

SEO Ranking Factors Part 1: Security 1

When looking at short head and long tail keywords, you see a 10% drop from positions one through eight in websites that utilize security certificates.

SEO Ranking Factors Part 1: Security 2

To put this in perspective, Moz estimates that first-page results account for 71% of traffic and 67% in the top five rankings. According to Advanced Web Ranking, 27% of web traffic goes to rank one, and 2% goes to rank eight.

What The Numbers Mean for You

“Great to know Joe, but what am I suppose to do with this information?” I’m glad you asked.

When you look at the data above you can guess that if your search terms fit in the XL or L range of search volume then having a security certificate is a must! Your competition is already doing it and going to continue to outrank you until you get with the program.

If your search terms are sitting in M to S search volume range, then having a version of your website with a security certificate will give you an advantage over half of your competition.

Since the adoption rate of security certificates is low, you’re going to distinguish yourself from your competition with minimal effort.

Moz estimates that first-page results account for 71% of traffic and 67% in the top five rankings

Real World Example

For this article, we are going to pick on dentists. On June 30th, 2017, we Googled “cosmetic dentistry Birmingham, Mi” and Dr. Robert Di Pilla was the 2nd organic result behind Yelp.

When we scroll through the rest of the results, you’ll notice that other than Yelp, he is the only website using SSL certificate. Obviously, this isn’t the only factor, but it is an interesting point to spotlight because they are ranking high despite not being very aggressive with their SEO efforts.

Regardless of keyword search volume size, it’s length or competitive level we highly suggest using a security certificate. Not only will help your search engine rankings but it’s also good for your visitors and ensure their information is safe should they contact you.

Hope you found this useful and look forward to talking about backlinks and referring domains. If you want to have your website audited by experts, reach out, and we will do it for free with zero obligation.