Why Your Website Needs an SSL Certificate Now

With Google’s continued push to convince all website owners that they need to secure their sites via SSL certificate, it’s time to make the switch even if you’re not gathering personally identifiable information from site visitors.

SSL Certificates secure websitesWith Google’s continued push to convince all website owners that they need to secure their sites via SSL certificate, it’s easy to view the change as another burden, especially if your site is simple enough that it does not gather personal information on your site visitors.

But there are reasons other than transaction processing and PII — personally identifiable information – to use SSL to secure your site.

You Look Bad – to Your Prospects

The top of the list is perception. If Google is going to display a not-secure message on sites without https, you’ll be sending a negative message to site visitors, even if they don’t really understand the underlying issues. Depending on the sophistication of your audience, and the nature of your business, this could be a minor distraction or it could have a large impact on site traffic and engagement. I would expect most people would avoid filling out a subscription form or other call to action on a site they had any doubts about.

You Look Good – to Hackers

You never want to be the only house on the block with an alarm company sign on your lawn – and you never want to be the only house without one.

Only a few years ago a site that used an SSL certificate without an obvious need for one might attract unwanted attention from hackers. (Though most hacking is not done anymore in a way that has actual human hackers looking at websites one by one.) You would have been that house with the alarm company sign when no one else had one.

We’re now getting to a point where operating without SSL puts you in the distinct minority. We’ve recently seen data that suggests that more than 70% of sites in the U.S. are now SSL protected. So you’re not quite the only house on the block without the sign, but it’s getting close.

You Want to Be Found

Another reason to install an SSL certificate and migrate your site to answer at https rather than http is to help your SEO efforts. Google is now including SSL protection as ranking factor. So all things being equal, a protected site will rank higher.

There are different kinds of SSL certificates and selecting the best one for your site is a conversation to be had by your webmaster and your hosting provider or IT manager in charge of your web server. As a digital marketer, you’ll want a seat at the table because, as you’ve seen above, SSL certificates are an area where technology can impact marketing.

Technical SEO for Content Marketing

Google and other search engines have made it clear that site performance is a consideration in their algorithms, so technical SEO matters more than ever.

Get the eye glaze ready — we’re going to get technical!

I get that stuff like technical SEO is the last thing most marketers want to talk about, but I promise we won’t dive too deeply into the geek-speak. Consider this a primer, with the goal of helping you to recognize the factors at play so you can discuss them intelligently with your technology staff. (Who, I’m sure, will be all too happy to go into the details I’m leaving out!)

Google and other search engines have made it clear that site performance is an important consideration in their ranking algorithms. Site visitors are frustrated when content won’t load and the search engines want to provide the best possible experience.

Of course, a slow site isn’t helpful for you either. No matter how great your content, if your visitors are already headed back to the search results page for the next-most enticing link before your content loads, you’ve lost an opportunity. Here are a few things you can do to get your website’s technology  and technical SEO in order and improve your chances for content marketing success.

Technical SEO is an important part of website performance

Hosting Performance

I rarely see anyone focus on this, but if you’re not sure where your website is hosted or how that hosting provider is connected to the internet, you have your first homework assignment. The largest corporate entities among us most certainly have their own server farms and smaller firms who have very high traffic web properties will, too. But many of the rest of us hire this out to one of the many commercial hosting outfits. There are a great many options both in terms of the services you can contract for and the kinds of providers offering them.

There are generalists whose services include everything from shared hosting to VPS (virtual private server) hosting to dedicated hosting where an entire hosting machine is yours and yours alone.

There are also specialists who offer hosting focused on the needs of one particular CMS, or the needs of one type of website (whether regulatory or transactional needs), or other criteria.

Choosing amongst them can be overwhelming if you don’t speak the language, so you need to bring in your web development team to help you navigate the options. Do not turn the decision over to them, though. Instead, work with them and set your ego aside. Be willing to ask the “dumb” questions to make sure that they’re helping you make a decision that factors in your marketing needs and not just their technology needs.

SSL Certificates

This is another area that is getting more scrutiny. You may not know what an SSL certificate is, but you’ve seen them in action. Any time you see “https” in a web address rather than “http,” you know there is an SSL certificate under the hood.