Online security is one of the most crucial things online users need. Nobody wants to input personal information without the assurance of utmost digital security and privacy. SSL certificates are one of the solutions to this issue. Website owners do not only have the benefit of online safety with an SSL certificate; secure websites often rank higher in a search engine relative to other SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, strategies in place.
The threat of data breaches is persistent everywhere. All classes of websites, including government agencies, suffer from the lack of website security without the addition of an effective SSL certificate. State Information Technology Agency (SITA) hosts the Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) website. Recent security threats have raised concerns in South Africa.
Mungadze reports in a news article, “At the core of the security concerns is that the PPSA’s website doesn’t have Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certification, which means information sent and received through the site is unprotected and could be stolen or modified by hackers.” The importance of SSL is not optional. Ensuring a secure connection should be a priority on all websites, especially websites that cater to vast amounts of personal data.
What is an SSL Certificate in SEO?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. SSL certificates are security protocols that authenticate and encrypt data. An SSL certificate keeps personal information private and secures connections between a web server and a browser. While there are many factors and aspects that make website rankings higher in a search engine, the existence of an SSL certificate is a measure of sustainable Search Engine Optimisation practice and SEO performance.
No individual who wants to set up a high-ranking website can ignore the influence of online security measures. Getting the right SSL certificates has a great effect on search engine ranking factors.
Google values the data security of any website visitor, and SSL is a search ranking signal for that factor. A secure site is more likely to rank higher across search engine results. Anyone who wants to create a compelling website cannot separate SEO ranking strategies and SSL.
Purpose of SSL certificates
The purpose of SSL certificates comes three-fold. First, an SSL certificate keeps sensitive information hidden from all computers it passes through. Second, the existence of an SSL certificate becomes additional authentication to ensure data does not go to an imposter server. Lastly, SSL certificates build trust and integrity between online visitors and websites.
The “s” in “https” stands for secure, which is not present in other unencrypted websites. In a time where acquiring personal information over the web gets easier every day, owners should prioritise putting the best SSL certificate in online spaces.
The most prominent benefit of SSL to users is the protection of personal data and the guarantee that there is a less likely chance of identity theft and fraud.
Which Certificate Is Ideal for my Website?
All website owners and operators should assess the needs of the website to purchase the correct SSL. Many SSL certificate providers can also cater to individuals looking to increase website security.
Stipulations include only getting suitable SSL certificate products from reputable parties. Get the right type of SSL certificate only from verified certificate authorities and top competitors like DigiCert and Comodo (MarketWatch, 2022).
Looking for the right SSL, maintaining the SSL certificate and understanding SEO rankings remains a mystery to many. In the end, owners may invest in SSLs that do not make their websites more secure. No two SSL certificates are the same, but SSL certificates are divided into three types.
Three Basic Types of SSL Certificates
Certificate authorities offer three types of SSL certificates. Each type has a different scope and purpose. It is necessary to assess the website before purchasing any SSL. It is best for website owners not only to think of the current standing of their website. Think ahead and foresee any potential developments of the website to ensure that the SSL can still provide security through any change.
Domain Validation certificates (DV)
The Domain Validation certificate verifies that the domain name matches the applicant organisation handling the website. While there is a guarantee that encryption is in place, there is no guarantee on who truly handles the information behind the security site seal. The DV SSL can secure www and non-www domains on the web.
A Domain Validation certificate ensures that the applicant has the right to apply for the SSL in question. Though DV certificates are entry-level, it provides strong website encryption.
Features of Domain Validation certificate
The Domain Validation certificate works best as an affordable SSL certificate. The certificate issues a 2048-bit signature and does not require documentation. It provides 256-bit encryption, and Certificate Authorities can issue these SSL certificates immediately. The DV certificate works with almost all web and mobile browsers. Websites with DV certificates have the “https” and a small padlock in the address bar.
These type of SSL certificates are best for the following sites:
- Non-eCommerce sites
- Personal websites / Blogs
- Small to medium website owners looking for domain encryption
Organisation Validation certificates (OV)
The Organisation Validation certificate is for validation of organisations, large businesses and companies. These certificates serve as an encryption for sensitive information on the website. OV certificates vet additional company or organisation information about the domain handlers. Users who click the security site seal of OV-certified websites see some organisation details or business information behind the site.
Features of Organisation Validation certificate
The Organisation Validation certificate features entities that are government-registered. OV certificates also protect subdomains and support 128-, 256-, and 2048-bit encryption. The address bar displays a padlock, “https”, and more company details behind the website.
Due to more thorough screening and organisation background checks, it may take twenty-four hours to issue the SSL. These SSL certificates are best for the following sites:
- eCommerce sites
- Sites that collect information like name, credit card details, email address
- Corporate websites
Extended Validation certificates (EV)
The Extended Validation certificates are the highest form of SSL certificate in the market. The difference between Extended Validation certificates from the first two types of SSL is the level of vetting involved. EV certificates provide higher and more advanced security features particularly against email frauds, cyber attacks, and phishing attacks.
All SSL certificates do the same thing: protect and encrypt personal and sensitive information across servers and browsers. EV certification involves standard vetting procedures, longer background checks, and higher proof of certification rights.
Features of Extended Validation certificate
The Extended Validation certificates 2048-bit encryption An EV certificate is best for warding off phishing attacks and fraudulent attempts on the website.
To identify if a website has an EV certificate, identify the following signifiers:
✔︎ The domain name should contain: “https://”
✔︎ The address bar should be green in colour, except for Google Chrome version 69
✔︎ URL should display the organisation’s name
✔︎ Certificate information contains the Certificate Authority’s name
The focus of Certificate Authorities around EV certificates builds upon layers of stringent verifications involving physical and digital organisation presence. EV certificates are best for the following sites:
- High-profile brands
- Websites that collect user information such as e-commerce sites, banking websites or social media websites
How Does It Improve SEO Factors?
Search engine results pages often depend on hundreds of ranking signal factors from Google. Using SSL certificates alone will not result in paramount top SEO rankings across any search engine. Search rankings involve content marketing strategies, digital marketing techniques, or ranking algorithms.
Nevertheless, the presence of SSL certificates heightens overall SEO rankings. These are some of the ways SSL improves SEO:
- Building user trust and user experience by providing security for personal information
The SSL provides a guarantee of personal privacy and protection.
- Providing a boost in the site’s rankings when the website already has other high-ranking factors
Other SEO strategies are already in place, and the SSL certificate is only an additional push higher across search results.
- Improving user experience by flashing all visual signals that the visitor is on a safe website
When the website is unsafe, Google chrome flashes all types of warnings resulting in demotion across the results page due to inconsistent visitor activity.
The importance and impact of SSL certificates boil down to two things. One, SSL is mandatory for online security. Two, another way to improve search engine optimisation is by adding the correct SSL certificate.
SSL certificate and overall online security
A report by Forbes indicates that cyber-attacks continue to grow every year. An alarming 93% of recorded cases indicate that cyber attackers can access company networks and organisational resources. In 2021, there was a 15.1% increase in data breaches and attacks. Adding the right SSL certificate is not only mandatory for small enterprises online. Large organisations are called to double-check their current digital safety too.
SSL certificate and SEO
Most website owners aim to have an organic stream of visitors across the page. Small business owners rely on conversion rates to build a reputable business presence online. At this age, digital security measures lead to optimal SEO practices and better user perception. SSL certificates are not just online accessories; they are necessary for business growth.