What is the Definition of SSL And Will Having it Affect Your Google Ranking?

A few weeks ago, I made the switch to SSL and now my website has a pretty green lock (and an https:// as well!) on itwhat is the definition of ssl indicating my website is now secure. Why did I make this change?

Well because people from the main organization I take SEO advice from said that they believe Google will sooner or later be looking at this as an indicator of rank and websites that take the plunge now, may benefit later. So they actually set up a cool way for websites to make the switch but we’ll get to that later.

1) Let’s actually get the definition out of the way. SSL. What is it?

Secure Sockets Layer is the full term but honestly, what does that even mean?

As someone who is new to this topic, I can’t really go too deep into it and I’ll admit that my knowledge on SSL is limited, but it is enough to know how to get it done and that it is important for ranking, so all I’ll say is this:

My understanding of this is that a secure site is essential to ANY website that has a checkout cart.

If you have a Paypal button, sell anything eCommerce related and require that people enter their personal info and even things like email, then a secure site is necessary and also, many programs dictate that you must have it before selling things on your page.

Furthermore, an https:// which is what your site’s URL changes to once it’s secure vs a regular http:// has a more unconscious/subconscious (I don’t know the difference, use the know which makes more sense contextually…) reaction in our minds. I have gotten used to doing business on websites that have the https:// on it because it represents security to me.

And when it comes to security and https:// has less chances of malware or any other bugs going into your page. This is one of the reasons why people naturally trust secure websites more than regular ones.

Now let’s talk SEO.

What is the evidence that it can affect Google ranking? Well they said it themselves. Here is the following title and a small snippet taken from one of Google’s pages:

It’s hard to put up the whole article, but I’m going to do something unorthodox, I’m going to link directly to that article here so you can read it yourself (though I will summarize it now).

Basically in the article, Google started looking at https:// as an added ranking metric nearly 3 years ago. Although there were no mandatory recommendations for all websites to change to this, the fact is, it has been used and considered to be looked as a metric for ranking.

Plus I have heard from at least 3 people I personally trust with SEO that their traffic grew after switching their sites to an https:// format. 

Now while it is still anecdotal, I honestly do not see any reason to dismiss this is a testing period and truly believe that sooner or later, all sites that move to being secure will have a stronger influence within Google. 

It is absolutely true that they seek great content, but with an additional security on top of that, why would it hurt to have that on your site? 

It was this evidence and recommendations that eventually had me switch it up and this brings me to…

How to make your site secure (SSL friendly):

Right now if you have a website, odds are if you type the URL, you will likely see the following icon:

Also I’d like to note, this is an OLD website I haven’t touched in awhile, haven’t updated at all, and guess what…it got hacked…

Now I will say that your website can be safe from hackers even if it is NOT SSL friendly, you just need to keep all your plugins updated basically, but this would likely NOT happen on a secure site to begin with and after writing this article I will begin the long process of trying to resolve this nonsense on that site…

Anyway back to the point…as long that icon I mentioned is present, your connection is not secure and the key (pun intended) is to make it so. Once you do the icon will change from that i with a circle around it to a GREEN lock.

This is what it will look like:

So how do you make that change? 

Well I only know of 3 ways. I’ll start from the more complex one, into the expensive but convenient one, then the cheapest, most convenient one.

Option 1: Set it up yourself. 

First you need to have a website and hosting, but that hosting has to be on what’s known as a separate server meaning your IP address is on it’s own individual address. It’s like having private property.

If you don’t have it, you will need to buy it (the separate hosting).

Then your job is to buy what’s known as the CERTIFICATE that gives you the ability to turn your site into a secure page.

I don’t know if domain registrars sell them or not, but I have seen the price to be about $50 a year for one per site. And the hosting itself can also be around $5 a month, so you’re looking at over a $100.

Once you buy the certificate, you need to basically confirm you own your website through whatever area you purchased your certificate through by entering and/or copying/pasting a code they give you.

Note: These instructions should not be mistaken for detailed instructions. I am not an expert in setting up SSL, but I can give you the bits to go and do it yourself.

Once verification is made, then you can activate it and your site will change from http:// to https://. 

Option 2: Pay an “expert” to do it. Price $100-$200.

That price range is based of a conversation I had a with a friend who said he made his site secure after hiring someone to handle all the coding of that.

Basically take the normal price of option 1 and add the professional set up of option 2 and you have the total price here, several $100 at least…

Option 3: Buy and/or host your website on Wealthy Affiliate, press a button and it’s done for you.

Basically, it’s included FREE when you host there, so no crazy prices and need for certificate buying/set up.

This is the only option I used and I found it to be the most convenient. Basically Wealthy Affiliate, while being mainly an educational program for online business is also a domain registrar that includes hosting.

  • If you own a domain, you can move it there.
  • If you don’t own a domain, you can buy it there through it’s “Site Domains” option for a flat yearly fee and they don’t jack up the prices every year after that like other registrars do.

So basically what happens here is that if you have a website hosted on Wealthy Affiliate, an option to make it SSL is available at the push of a button. Here is how it looks:

And once I hit the on button, I made a before/after image of what my site looked like…

And bam, with literally one click of a button, I had a fully made https:// secure page up and running. And I didn’t need to pay anyone big money or figure it out myself.

Now to USE this feature, you need to be a premium member of WA which is $49/month. However, with free hosting for up to 25 sites and each one having free SSL for life, the savings are astronomical short and long term, and again, there’s also training to make any website you create make money so there’s a lot.

Ever since that feature came out, I have moved all of my major websites, including this one to SSL and it has been an absolute breeze doing so. Most people are still stuck on options 1 and 2 unfortunately who aren’t members. It’s just a move most places have not yet recognized and made easy for the general public. WA however has and I’d take full advantage of it as it’s readily available.

Troubleshooting: Sometimes activating SSL may not make your site secure. What to do then…

In certain cases, you may find that just by making your site secure only makes one, a few or even most pages secure, but if 100% of your site isn’t FULLY secure, then neither is the whole domain.

How to check your site’s SSL certificate (If it is fully secure or not):

While there are several places to check, the one I know is whynopadlock.com (indicating that green lock icon I spoke about and showed). Check your site there. If you set up SSL but it doesn’t show as being secure on that page, then it’s time to figure out why…

Now, for a moment, I have to bring it back to options 2 and 3 above…

Option 2: If you have an expert do this for you, you won’t have to worry about this.

Option 3: WA has free added support to help you with this if your page isn’t fully secure. They’ll basically help out like an expert would, but for free.

BUT, should you be stuck in option 1, where you are the one who set it up and things didn’t go your way, there are in my experience 3 reasons this can happen:

Reason 1: You just didn’t complete/confirm your certificate correctly. In that case, have someone from the place you purchased you certificate from walk you through it and redo all the steps necessary.

Reason 2: You may have an image or several on your site that are externally linked to an unsecured page and/or your images may have been uploaded in a way that makes them unsecured. 

This option is probably the most complicated “looking” to fix, but it is still easy to do so. First you need to identify if indeed it is the image that needs to be changed. To do this, visit your website LIVE as it shows up to the public.

Then on any part of the site that isn’t a link, right click and select “inspect”. Then select “Console”. This will show you where on the page there is a unsecured image located. 

If you have say 3 images on a page and the console options shows that image 2 is unsecured (it’ll show as http:// and that’s how you’ll know), your job will be to log into your site, whether through the dashboard or cPanel, whatever option you use and change the URL and/or code of the image and add an S right next to http:// so it becomes secured.

That would apply for just the 1 page where you inspect where it’s unsecured, you’d need to do that for every single page to be sure the whole thing has the green lock. With sites that have a small amount of pages, this isn’t a problem, for larger pages, you may need to think about hiring someone to figure this out if you encounter this problem and/or maybe transferring your site over to WA hosting so their support can help you resolve it.

This kind of stuff sounds and looks complicated but honestly, if you do a YouTube search on it, you should get great instructions you can follow, so with that said, don’t worry too much about this.

Reason 3: It’s your theme. 

If the first 2 reasons fail to deliver a FULLY secure site, then it’s time to consider a theme change. Such was the case with me when my theme was the last obstacle between me and a secure website and ALL I had to do was change it. 

In fact. the ONLY reason I had discovered my theme was the issue was that site support from Wealthy Affiliate told me they made the required changes to my site, but there was some sort of specific doe in my template that could not be changed to accommodate an SSL certificate, thus I had to change it to make it work and so I did.

Now I don’t know if there is a list of themes which are SSL friendly or not, but in my case, I switched to an Eleven40 Pro theme and BOOM, my site had the pretty padlock on it.

My final thoughts: 

This is a topic that scared me when I first heard about it. Enabling SSL sounded like I was changing my whole website around but in reality, it’s just adding another SAFE, layer over it.

Once you make the switch, you can elect to let Google know through Webmaster Tools that you did this, but in my experience this is optional.

In other words, if you use webmaster tools for your site, you can leave it alone and the changes will be seen by Google on their own.

If you have rankings on your site, everything will automatically switch and your rankings will stay the same and/or rise depending on the switch.  

Once again, I have to bring up the amazing deal for SSL from Wealthy Affiliate:

how to save on ssl

Either way, switching over to SSL can only benefit your site in the long run and it’s something I’d do while it’s still a fresh assumption that Google is looking at for ranking. 

But besides just the ranking thing, consider that people will also look upon your site from a more trusted view and that can only help your business/authority grow and if that happens, surely Google’s trust will also follow it, so it’s only going to help you!

34 thoughts on “What is the Definition of SSL And Will Having it Affect Your Google Ranking?”

  1. Hi Vitaliy.

    Another useful article! I have always noticed the https// on websites. I often checked if websites had it when I was doing a payment online. But I didn’t know it was also a factor for Google ranking. Have you noticed any significant changes since you installed SSL in WA?

    Reply
    • To be honest, there hasn’t been a big change. I have seen small drops and rises in traffic, but that was because I updated some of my ads which impacted it. I am however absolutely certain that going https was the right choice and suggest everyone do it.

      Reply
  2. Funny I came across this article just in time. I was wondering how to get my websites changed to https, but I really didn’t know what it was called. Luckily I am also a member of the Wealthy Affiliate community and all I had to do was use the easy way, which is just how I like it. I really didn’t understand the benefits of SSL until now though, so thank you so much.

    Reply
  3. Thank you Vitaliy!

    I have now come across 3 of your articles that have been quite useful. SSL is something I have been researching for my e-commerce business and this helped me with figuring out if I should or not. Answer is definitely!

    And as a premium member of Wealthy Affiliate, I can concur that they are fantastic if you are starting out in an online business or even if you have a pre-existing one.

    Thank you again for your articles, they are very informative and help to direct people to the right places to go.

    Best of luck,

    Scott

    Reply
  4. I totally thought that I didn’t have to worry about SSL for my website because I wasn’t collecting payments or letting users create any kind of account.

    But then it turns out that having SSL enabled is still super important even without those things. And it’s especially important if you have even one input form, even if it’s as simple as an email optin! So I finally converted my website (though I should have done it way earlier!)

    It certainly sounds like having a website hosted through Wealthy Affiliate is the easiest way to get SSL enabled. I think that actually costs extra with other web hosts, so it’s nice that they include that feature.

    Reply
    • Yeah it’s a very expensive, yearly cost with other providers Kiersten, but WA is one of those golden places you get it as part of the membership and yes it will be important moving forward to have a website with SSL even if you don’t plan on having any checkout carts. After all, Google themselves did point to this happening.

      Reply
  5. Hello!

    This is great! I had no clue about SSL, what it was, or what to do to get it! I’ve actually just now gone and made my site secure through Wealthy Affiliate.

    I actually have my own site through wealthy Affiliate and had no clue that I could do it through them. I wonder why it’s not just automatically enabled through Wealthy Affiliate when you host your website? I also made sure that my site was 100% secure, which it now is!

    Thanks for giving me such great insight into SSL and what it is, I do feel as if I’ve gained valuable knowledge coming to your site today!

    Cheers,

    Brooke

    Reply
    • Well when it first started, it was more of a beta version of it, but now it’s available to everyone inside that program Brooke, I’m glad to see you set yours up. 

      Reply
  6. Oh my gosh is that what SSL stands for? I’ve always wondered!

    Thanks for for the helpful article. I will definitely be looking at getting SSL on my websites. I have heard that its important but have been umming and ahhing because of the costs and the complication of getting it set up. 

    I’m very interested in the Wealthy Affiliate option of setting it up with just one flick of a button. I recall it was a very complicated process for a newbie when I had to set it up via my website hosting company.

    Reply
    • You would need to have your website first be hosted in WA to have the free SSL option SJ. Make sure to do this first before you set it up, then it’ll be very easy.

      Reply
  7. Hey,

    I have heard that it would improve rankings as well. I did not know that it stood for Secure Sockets Layer, I just learned that and that shows you can always learn something new. Inside of WA it is totally free to switch and that is awesome.

    I have changed my sites to SSL and I did it because I wanted my visitors to feel safe on my sites. I think it is best for everyone to change their sites up. It will not hurt anyone to do so. Thanks for the info.

    Reply
    • No problem Kendrick, I agree, we have to be willing to change our sites to improve our visitor’s experience and through SSL, you are right, they WILL feel safer.

      Reply
  8. Hi Vitaliy,

    I wasn’t thinking about the security of my website until I read your post. I am a Wealthy Affiliate member too, so I guess it was already taken care of. I will select the SSL button to secure my website, because you are correct that rankings will be recognized by Google and visitors need to feel safe visiting our sites.

    Reply
  9. Hello Vitaliy,

    This was great information as I had no idea about this feature. I am very new to the internet marking world (only 3 weeks in) and am learning on a daily basis but this by far was one of the best piece of information I have ran into.

    I too use Wealthy Affiliate so I just went to where you directed me too and like magic, my site is secure now.

    Thanks for the post, great information.

    Reply
    • Great to hear you used that feature Ian! The mainstream SSL industry just hasn’t caught up to making it an easy process for site owners. Luckily, WA is ahead of this trend and I’m glad you’re utilizing it.

      Reply
  10. Hi there,

    I am certainly enjoying the SSL and traffic boost that it is giving! An additional bonus is if you’re out at your local starbucks or where ever and using their wifi connection to do some work on your site..chill out and rest assured, you are secure as your site is SSL and data transferred is encrypted! Fabulous!

    Reply
  11. This was great information for me as I am new to building out my website (under 3 months) and still learning new things everyday just like this. I went to the website checker you recommended and it turns out my site is safe and secure! I do however use Wealthy Affiliate the program you recommend so I am not surprised.

    Reply
  12. Thanks for the info man! I already saw that my website didn’t have the green lock in the corner, but I didn’t know how to change that. I’m also at WA so I immediately checked and the SSL was off, just like u showed. Thanks for the info, I have the SSL on now!

    Reply
    • Awesome Fezho! Just make sure it’s fully secure by looking at the pages on your site. If the padlock remains, you’re good.

      Reply
  13. Found it really informative and detailed. My site isn’t SSL and after reading your post, I will try to enable it and tell you about my results later! For your website, is there anything that you noticed after you enabled SSL or was it always enabled already? And if my website isn’t one of those that has a shopping cart and checkout, do I still need SSL? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi, I only recently added the SSL change to my site. I haven’t noticed too many changes yet in ranking, but at the same time, I have not noticed any decline in rankings either, only a little bit of a Google dance here and there, but overall, the rankings stabilized back to where they were before the SSL was done and some rankings have gone up.

      Now about the question on SSL and check out carts…If you don’t have that or you don’t have a form of collecting people’s information, financial info, then having SSL is not mandatory, but remember, I did say and linked to an article where Google themselves said it was going to be a metric in ranking, and a positive one.

      Overall, I think in the long run, a lot of people will turn more so to sites that have the green padlock vs the ones which don’t and Google will recognize that and reward sites who do have it, even if they don’t have checkout carts or other parameters which would normally justify having it.

      In other words, I’d go through the short trouble of setting up SSL on your site to get rewarded for it in the long run. Through Wealthy Affiliate, an SSL update on your site would be done quite easily.

      Reply
  14. I got free SSL through the same host, Wealthy Affiliate, it is awesome..:-). I checked my SSL trough the website you mentioned (whynopadlock) because it said on the little lock that my website was not 100 % secure. (a small yellow triangle) Now, thanks to that website I now know what on my website is not secure.. thanks. And thanks for explaining in “layman’s terms” about SSL…:-)

    Reply
  15. I didn’t know what SSL stood for before but I’m so glad I read this article so I know now. There are so many acronyms and new terms for a person new to the online world of business that it can be hard to keep up.

    However, I think it’s very important to try and keep abreast of the important terms. This article has really helped me so thank you! I don’t have my website set up for online purchases yet but it’s something I would like to have in the future. I will definitely be following your guidance and changing my site to a https:// one!

    Reply
  16. I have heard of SSL before even had it on my current site as i know it is top security on site which Google values well.

    But i never knew much details about it on anywhere until i read your post on it here.

    This is very informative and valuable post to mention the least . All i can say is thank you,

    You made easy for one to understand more about SSL and how important it is that every site has it.

    Reply
  17. A very in-depth insight into why we all should think about implementing SSl on our websites. I was particularly interested to note that apart from updating plugins, SSL will prevent hackers from gaining access to the website.

    I must compliment Wealthy Affiliate for adding this option to their premium membership at no added cost, it is going to be a very valuable bonus.

    A very well written post with every angle covered.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Well SSL will definitely help reduce the risk of hacking, but keeping your plugins updated (all of them) will almost guarantee your site is fully protected.

      Reply
  18. Thanks, this was very helpful. I hadn’t realized Google might use SSL as a way to rank a website. I have some of my sites secure, but not all, so I’ll definitely be going in to make sure each of my sites are updated to include SSL. Also, thank you for showing how to do this in Wealthy Affiliate. This was a bonus. There is so much to keep up with website maintenance, so it is really good to have reminders like your post that provides thorough information about the benefits and also step by step instructions of how to get the job done. I also appreciate that you suggest options in case a person would rather just hire someone to do it for them.

    Jini

    Reply
  19. This is an important blog/post that everyone can benefit from. Very informative but a bit confusing. It is, however, crucial to the success of any website and affiliate marketer.

    Is there a specific YouTube link you could share for instructions on how to implement SSL? Also, is there a link available showing us how to transfer a domain name to WA?

    Reply
    • For the second question, there is training inside WA to help you transfer over a domain and hosting and it’s free to view. But for the first question on SSL and finding videos on it, it would depend on which service you’re using Karen.

      I didn’t make a single tutorial because I only used the easy one and the others may have their own separate guidelines and requirements for you to take care of and set up before you site becomes secured. Usually if you do this outside WA, like I said, you can hire someone to take care of it OR call your hosting company and have them guide you through it.

      As for YouTube, I am sure if you looked up a video on how to set up SSL if you have so and so hosting (mention it specifically), you may get some results.

      Reply
  20. Hello there,

    It’s a great article, nice to know more about SSL, I am like you just switched into SSL from a couple of weeks as old members on Wealthy Affiliate advised me to do it.

    I have a question, now my web site starts with https but actually the green sign still does not appear, the info sign is still there, I know that you didn’t go deep in SSL, but this question just popped up in my mind while I was commenting.

    I am glad that you mentioned changing to SSL improves Google ranking, that’s a great thing.

    Finally thanks for this informative post I know that you put hard work & time in it so good job.

    Cheers, Ehab

    Reply
    • Hi Ehab, if you are absolutely certain you don’t have that green lock showing, you can do a few things:

      1) Make sure you’re looking at your site through Google Chrome. Usually other web browsers will show that lock and an unsecured icon together. Firefox does this for example. So what I’m saying is, run this step to be sure if your site is secure or not.

      If it isn’t…

      2) Let Wealthy Affiliate’s support staff know…that’s really it. Like I said, that’s one of the great things they’ll handle for you if you get stuck.

      Chances are your site is probably not secure yet because there’s an image on it that didn’t go through the change. It’s one of the most common things that prevents a full secure site from being set up.

      That or, they’ll tell you it’s the theme in which case, change it.

      You should be fine then.

      Reply

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