How Does SSL Affect Your Search Engine Optimization

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Information about How Does SSL Affect Your Search Engine Optimization

Published on March 14, 2014

Author: Imburr



If you are launching a website or online store, you need to be aware of how SSL will affect your search engine optimization.

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING SEO Search Engine Optimization encompasses a wide variety of techniques in which your website can be better tracked and displayed by Google (the largest search engine). Through comprehensive management your site can have the largest chance of succeeding. (888) 870-3181 /VASEOExpert CONTENT GENERATION /company/virginia-seo With the recent Google algorithm changes, content generation, publishing, and blogging are the keys to ranking a site and driving traffic. Through careful management, your business can reap the benefits of constant content. Social Media Marketing is an important part of any business, large or small. As social media develops, businesses are finding new and innovative ways in which to sell products and attract customers. Can you afford to ignore a possible revenue stream? VIRGINIA SEO

How Does SSL Affect Your Search Engine Optimization Chris Dill Warning: This post is a little bit technical, and not aimed at the average business owner! What is SSL? Secure sockets layer (SSL) is the standard security technology for establishing an encryption between the Web server in the browser. This is highly important for e-Commerce sites where sensitive data is exchanged. When you first make the choice to design a new website you have to decide on what your website will ultimately end up as, and if you want to implement security measures such as SSL. Planning for this up front is far easier than adding it later on and having to redirect web pages that have already been crawled. If your website is purely a blog, social or informational, you could most likely skip an SSL certificate. If your website handles any sort of personal information or does any payment processing, credit card handling, or anything to do with money, you most likely want to use an SSL certificate. Not only does the certificate secure your information, but it shows your customers that your website is secure and they can easily enter their credit or personal information without fear of it being hijacked. Virginia SEO and SSL When I launched Virginia SEO, I had to decide whether I wanted my entire site to be secured by SSL or only the portions of my site which handled sensitive information. I did quite a bit of research on the matter and decided to do my entire site in SSL. In the past this would not have been a wise move, because of the overhead that SSL adds to your site. But due to today’s standards and web speed and the common connection being quite fast, the overhead added by SSL is not considered to be of a major concern. If you are on dial-up Internet browsing my website you will most likely have poor performance… but my target audience is not on dial up Internet. So why would I secure my whole site with SSL? Does SSL affect your search engine optimization? What are the benefits of SSL? First, the green lock icon in the browser bar is trusted. I notice when a site is on SSL, and I appreciate it. Not all users may share this same appreciation, but some do. Second, SSL for an entire site is easy to setup- easier to setup than a partial SSL deployment (or so I thought- more on this later). SSL adds security for your customers credit and personal information. Avoid the red security certificate screen when you use https without a SSL certificate. So I installed the SSL certificate on my webserver and deployed the website. I then forced the entire website to use SSL through some rules on my webserver (.htaccess). This then restricts all access to my site to come through SSL- which is https in the address bar. SSL and SEO Part Two Ok, so now I have a website, running on SSL, and I am doing SEO. While optimizing my website I have come across many items which affect SSL and SEO, and most of them are negative. That’s right- SSL has caused me several issues. If you are thinking of deploying SSL, you need to take some of these things into account and plan for them. 1. Duplicate content or URLs- This was not a problem that I had, but it is a problem that can happen. When you deploy a site on https, it can at times remain available on http. Google will crawl each of these sites and view them as different

sites. This runs the risk of a duplicate content issue, which Google does not like. There are a couple of ways around this, first of which is to force all traffic to one or another. Another way is to use a canonical pointer from one site to the other, which tells Google that one of the sites is the “master” site. 2. Configuration of .htaccess- You would not think this is difficult- everyone who has ever deployed a few websites has messed with .htaccess before. What you might not be ready for is WordPress + caching + SSL. There is a specific order to which these bits need to be in .htaccess, and there are also several different ways you can redirect from http to https. The code that I have had the best results with is: <IfModule mod_rewrite.c> RewriteEngine On RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !/(robots.txt|favicon.ico) [NC] RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R=301,L] RewriteCond %{HTTPS} on RewriteRule ^(robots.txt|favicon.ico)$$1 [R=301,L] </IfModule> This code not only does the redirect to SSL, but it excludes a couple of items from SSL and makes sure all addresses include a www as well. 3. Configuration of WordPress- This is not itself an issue- to turn your blog into SSL you just need to go into WordPress settings and change the address. For anyone not comfortable with WordPress, this can be confusing while also wrangling webserver redirection rules and everything else. 4. Some tools don’t like SSL- This is probably the biggest detractor from using SSL. As a SEO, I use a wide variety of tools for mining data, tweaking configurations, and modifying my site to be as optimal as possible. Some of these tools simply do not like SSL. Some of these tools give weird results using SSL. Here are some examples: 1. Google Webmaster Tools- you can add your site as http and also as https, and see different metrics for each site. 2. Raven SEO- the site auditor has problems with SSL, and often throws up false positives. Their support team has worked with me on this and the product is still in beta. I can do a site audit on my site and get different results on errors every time- all false positives. As mentioned above, Raven SEO throws up errors about accessing robots.txt from SSL. So the .htaccess rule I created above allows for robots.txt to be crawled on non-SSL. I suggest this for everyone who runs a SSL site. 3. Majestic SEO- one of the free tools does not work with SSL. 4. Others- I have run across two other unnamed tools which automatically appended http to the url you enter. So when you enter https:// it formats it like http://https:// 5. Configuration of minify- Configuring minify was a nightmare, plain and simple. Some of the plugins do not like the rewrite rules, and pull false url’s into the cache, which messes up your site. 5. Items from unsecured locations- Even if you force your domain to https, your website and theme can still present items from not https domain, such as external scripts. There is a way around this with a WordPress plugin, which forces all items on your site include scripts and links, to be https. This fixes the mixed content warnings from YouTube videos, etc. Another thing to remember is that when you add links and scripts to your site, you can leave the protocol off which let’s WordPress pick. For instance instead of use //

Verdict: Go For SSL! I tell you all of this only as a warning! If you face the choice on whether or not to run your entire site on SSL I recommend you do it . The trust and security your site gains outweighs the small pains and configuration caveats listed above. Here are some SSL providers, though you most likely want to go through your web host for ease of installation: GoDaddy BlueHost Comodo Register Symantec There are price point differences in each certificate, and also in what each certificate protects. If you do not understand SSL, please call your webmaster or hosting company for an explanation. All of the above companies have free 24/7 support and will gladly tell you about SSL in exchange for an opportunity to sell you one. Chris Dill SEO Expert at Virginia SEO Christopher Dill is a Christian entrepreneur who loves web design, marketing, and anything on a computer. He is the creator and author of The Dill Design, a local Virginia web design company . He also designed and runs Virginia SEO, which is a SEO/SEM and marketing company . By using both design skills and a marketing plan, he can offer his clients an end-to-end solution which can help a small business succeed.Chris is currently finishing up his Master of Information Systems at University of Phoenix, and works by day as a Senior Network Engineer. Chris' hobbies consist of technology, computers, and cutting-edge software. Latest posts by Chris Dill (see all) How Does SSL Affect Your Search Engine Optimization - March 11, 2014 The Right SEO Company – How To Hire One - March 3, 2014 Raven Tools Site Auditor Review - February 16, 2014 Powered by Starbox

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