Are you concerned about your website security?
Maybe not, but are your readers concerned?
Many website creators are installing SSL certificates so they can have an S at the end of their HTTP in their URL.
The “S” actually stands for “secure.”
Should you install an SSL certificate and make the move to an HTTPS website?
This post will explain the advantages and disadvantages for you.
In the event you decide to make the move, this post will also explain how to overcome the disadvantages.
Consider this question posed to me at Quora.com and my response:
Everyone has or will. That is my prediction but not based on statistics.
I will tell you why I am making that prediction:
Google tells people to proceed with caution before going to sites without a green lock indicating the site is secure.
In this day and age of viruses and hacking, people only want to proceed to secure sites.
If Google says they are proceeding to a site they have to worry about, why would they go?
Bloggers want traffic. Having a site that their potential visitors are told is not secure is an obstacle to their goal— getting more traffic.
I know a popular blogger. He said he only knew 2 bloggers without an SSL certificate. I used to be one of them.
I don’t accept money on my site, so I didn’t think I needed a “secure” site. For the reasons I stated, I was wrong.
I have an SSL certificate and an https:// in front of my blog name.
What is an SSL Certificate?
SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the HTTPS protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser.
If you look in the upper left-hand corner of the screenshot, you’ll see a green padlock indicating my site is secure. If you click the green padlock, a drop-down appears confirming that I have a valid SSL certificate. Notice, the drop-down tells everyone who comes to my site that my site is secure.
Why I Installed an SSL Certificate
I was on a plateau, My organic traffic wasn’t growing.
I read an article which offered a tip for people whose search traffic was stuck: Installing an SSL certificate would break the plateau.
I read blog posts by other bloggers who reported a slight boost in search traffic when they installed the certificate and moved to HTTPS.
Also, I discovered that WordPress.com moved all its users to an HTTPS site.
I decided to take the plunge and have my tech helper, Phillip Dews, install my SSL certificate and move me to a secure site.
Bloggers warned it could take some time for my organic traffic to increase.
However, my search traffic rose 25% almost immediately.
Advantages of Having an SSL Certificate
- People don’t trust sites without HTTPS.
- Sites that have the “SSL” Certificate are encrypted. This means they are secure. On sites that do accept money, this gives the consumer peace of mind since no one else can see the transaction details.
- Google considers sites with the SSL certificate a ranking factor. Knowing people will trust your site more if you have the certificate, Google will show your site more often to users than sites without the “S.” Is this speculation? No. Google confirmed it uses HTTPS as a ranking factor.
Consider these comments from SEO expert Nirmala Santhakumar: “SSL (HTTPS) is an important factor considered by Google to offer better rankings.”
Look what sites without the SSL certificate display to people who attempt to go there:
Phillip switched my site to HTTPS just in the nick of time. Immediately after, Grammy Dee posted this in her Facebook group Blogging Grandmothers:
Does Google show HTTPS websites to their users?
The answer is a definitive “yes” because they load faster and Google wants to improve user experience on your website.
My technical helper, Phillip, explained why HTTPS sites load faster using the analogy of people drinking in a bar:
Here is an analogy I like to use to explain the differences. Imagine waiting at a bar for a drink and there are 99 other people waiting at the bar. There is only 1 bartender, you are going to wait a while right? That’s HTTP and what most of today’s websites are still running on. Now imagine waiting at a bar with 99 other people for a drink but this time there are 100 bartenders that is HTTPS which, as of May 2017, only 13.7% of all websites are currently running. After I have finished with the website, yours will join that 13% and, of course, improve speed which, in turn, will improve your SEO vastly.
Did it work? Does my website load faster now?
Look at my site speed report before I installed the SSL certificate and moved to an HTTPS site:
Ouch! In the 50’s! That’s an F!
Look at my site speed now:
Look at the report Ahrefs sent me after I moved to HTTPS:
These are all improvements since my move to HTTPS.
Since Phillip switched me, there is a sharp increase in my organic traffic. This makes sense since the above screenshots show I’m receiving more visibility in the search engine results pages than I used to.
Magnet4Blogging reports if you switch, you’ll receive a small boost in your search traffic.
Whether your experience is like mine or Magnet 4 Blogging’s, the consensus seems to be you will experience a boost in your search engine traffic to some degree.
Look: I have 4 new keywords that have moved onto Page 1 of Google. There are 150 searches monthly for the keyword phrase Google Docs blog that will bring up my Google Docs article.
A shoutout goes to… Weebly, a publishing site. Weebly.com knows the importance of SSL. It actually contacts its users and reminds them they don’t have an SSL certificate. Then, Weebly tells its users how to easily install their SSL Certificate.
Disadvantages of Getting an SSL Certificate
- Technical Difficulties
As you can see, my like button won’t load. I prefer people have the option to “like” my articles.
I pay for CommentLuv premium. This way when people click the plus sign, their headlines with the URL’s are supposed to show.
Ever since I installed the SSL certificate, CommentLuv doesn’t work. Look what it says now when people click the plus sign:
Sorry, the page you were looking for does not exist or is not available. We performed a web search for “Commentluv” and here’s what we found.
It could be a coincidence, but the timing coincides. Unfortunately, I heard the CommentLuv plugin is no longer being supported by the developer.
Blogger Adrian Jock also reported problems with CommentLuv occurring after the switch to HTTPS. He published instructions on how to fix them.
Magnet 4 Blogging also reported experiencing technical difficulties of a different sort after installing an SSL certificate. The admin recommends using the SSL Insecure Content Fixer Plugin.
2. The certificate costs money. I interviewed a blogger who said money was a concern. However, now that he knew he was serious about blogging, he decided he’d eventually get the certificate. If you’re looking for an affordable place to get an SSL Certificate, Cheap SSL Shop offers low prices.
3. The certificate expires. This means you’ll need to repurchase it. How often? The SSL certificate expires every year or two. Consider these comments from a reader trying to read blog posts on a site with an expired SSL certificate:
Depending on the reader’s security settings, sites without a valid SSL certificate may even fail to load. I can’t tell you how many times sites with expired certificates are refused by my security software. I can manually click through, but often it’s just not worth it and I’ll look for another site instead.
4. The SSL certificate needs to be installed by a professional. Often, this will be your web host. Phillip, my tech helper, installed the SSL certificate for me.
5. Phillip was concerned I’d lose my social shares. I’ve read concerns from other bloggers about this. We solved the problem by installing the Social Warfare plugin. The plugin is effective since Social Warfare has a Preserve Social Proof feature.
Testimonial about the Value of an SSL Certificate
Blogger Ryan Biddulph wrote about the value of encrypted websites both as a blogger and as a reader of blogs:
As a blogger:
Going with HTTPS has worked for me (more traffic, more professional-looking, trusted blog, and brand)…
As a blog reader:
I do know that readers tend to trust HTTPS sites more than other sites, and I am concerned personally whenever I visit a site unless I trust the person implicitly – because I see potential security issues.
How to Get an SSL Certificate
- My tech helper, Phillip, can install an SSL Certificate for you like he did for me. Here is his contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mention I referred you.
- Many hosting companies install SSL Certificates for you.
Although I believe I am experiencing technical problems as a result of my move to HTTPS, I believe the advantages, more organic traffic for me and a faster loading site for my readers, make the move worth it.
If you are still debating about moving to HTTPS and installing an SSL certificate, I recommend you go to an encrypted site. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
I look forward to your comments:
What are your experiences? Are you planning on moving to HTTPS or have you already? If you have made the move, do you find it boosted your site speed and search traffic? Did you also experience technical concerns? If you haven’t made the move yet, why haven’t you installed an SSL certificate?
Readers, please share. This way bloggers who’ve installed the SSL certificate can realize how common technical problems are and how to fix them. If bloggers haven’t installed the SSL certificate yet, they can discover the importance of moving to an HTTPS site.
Article made possible by site supporters.
Update: Google has set a July 2018 deadline. According to a website security blog, “Google has announced a deadline of July 2018 as the date for when Chrome will begin clearly warning users if a site is insecure. This prominent warning is likely to affect how secure users feel and may cause visitors to leave a site, resulting in a negative impact on a sites bounce rate, impressions, clicks, and sales.”