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September 22, 2014

SSL Will Help Your Web Content Rank Higher, But Should You Do It?

Photo Credit: infocux Technologies Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

With all of the changes to different Google algorithms, everyone is looking for newer, better ways to rank their sites. Do they use keywords? Content? Images?

Well, in the search for better ways to rank, many people come across the latest news that having an SSL will help rank their website. This sounds wonderful, but is it really? This blog is going to explore if an SSL is a good step to take as well as other methods you can use to rank higher.

What Is SSL?

While this news might make your ears perk up, we should unpack what exactly an SSL is. If you happen to know already, great! We just want to provide a refresher just in case. SSL stands for secure sockets layer. This is what you see in the URL box to show it is secure. You will recognize it by the little lock or if you see “HTTPS.” This is something that makes a lot of people relax, thinking the site is secure, but many realized this was not the case when the Heartbleed virus came out. Regardless of the fear about Open SSL not being secure, many sites are still making sure to get an SSL certificate to let customers know the website is safe to use.

How Does it Help You Rank?

As the Mashable article above points out, many things are being done to prevent another Heartbleed attack (or something similar), so the SSL is undergoing a few changes. This is apparently making it safer and Google really wants sites to be secure for its users. This will help you rank because of the desire of appearing to be safe. Google does not want to send its users to an unsecure site. However, Search Engine Land says, “HTTPS as a ranking signal will carry less weight than other signals such as high-quality content.” So far this change is only impacting about one percent of the sites on the Internet. This means that while it says it will help you rank, it will not be as effective as quality content, local searches, and social media. 

Should You Use SSL?

As noted above, it does not have a big impact on websites. There are several other perfect ways to get your site noticed and have it rank. You might notice that using SSL will even slow down your site, which can be detrimental to user experience.

Let’s take a look at a few things that are far better at helping you rank than an SSL:

1. Focus Your Energy On High-Quality Content. No matter what Google changes with its algorithms, the one thing that never changes is the necessity of quality content. Google understands that when people search for a product or service, they want to find something that offers them real value. If you write your site for the search engines, you will lose visitors faster than Kryptonite cripples Superman. Terrifying, huh? This is why Google strongly focuses on writing quality content. Always make sure you write content that is easy to read for visitors, give them information, teach them something new, and you will have more revenue and rank higher than an SSL can give you.

2. Utilize Local Searches. A great way to help you rank higher is if you craft your Web content for local searches. This will ensure that when someone is searching for you in your area, your company will pop up as one to trust and go to. The best way to tailor your site for local searches is to utilize long-tail keywords, create multiple landing pages for the areas you provide services to, and provide maps on your landing pages. You will find that you get more traffic when you start to tweak your site for local searches. These searches will be much more efficient at boosting your rank than an SSL, and it is much cheaper!

3. Focus On User Experience. User experience will also help your rank out because people will more likely review your site positively. One of the goals of SEO is to make sure people are able to navigate around your site easily, find things right away, and that your links are not misleading. This can be quite unintentional, but it is very annoying when a user clicks on something about how to adopt a Greyhound and gets taken to the best food for Greyhounds. Making sure the user experience is top notch will help you have a great customer base that will stay around and help you rank on the search results page.

4. Social Media Is A Better Beacon. While an SSL might boost your site a little, social media will greatly help you rank. You are able to optimize your social media accounts so that they can pop up when someone is searching for your type of business and it can help people find a central location to stay up-to-date with what your company is up to. Sure, your website is great at that, but social media gives people the ability never to leave their Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other accounts, unless they really want to.

Tootles For Now

While it is a cool idea to find different, non-black hat SEO tricks to help your site rank, not everything available is beneficial. You might be thinking that any and all legitimate tricks are helpful, but you need to make sure you incorporate only the best to bring in visitors. This is why you absolutely need to focus on content curation instead of different, more expensive things such as finding an SSL or link building. Take some time to go over your content strategy again and make sure you are writing that quality material. That is really what will help you rank, bring in great revenue, and stay successful within the constant changes to Google’s algorithms.


Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.