Due to Google’s recent official announcement that an https site is a search engine ranking factor, I’ve decided to move my site, BillHartzer.com, to https from http. Just to see if I can get a better rankings for the pages on my website. Currently, I do not accept any sort of payment for the content that I write here on my site, so that’s not the reason I’m moving the site from http to https.
Trust is the biggest factor in my decision to change from http to https, and that’s one major way you can get a higher visibility in web search. My web host, HostDime, offers secure certificates at a very reasonable rate, which is $30 per year for a basic certificate. It’s good for www and non-www.
I wrote earlier about https secure websites and search engine rankings, and my recommendation that you consider switching your website from http to https. But it’s not just about having an ecommerce website and making sure that the data (credit card numbers, etc.) is secure. It’s about providing a more “trusted” type of environment for your website visitors.
John Mueller, from Google, gave some really good points about why a non-ecommerce site, a “content site” should go https:
Some webmasters say they have “just a content site”, like a blog, and that doesn’t need to be secured. That misses out two immediate benefits you get as a site owner:
1. Data integrity: only by serving securely can you guarantee that someone is not altering how your content is received by your users. How many times have you accessed a site on an open network or from a hotel and got unexpected ads? This is a very visible manifestation of the issue, but it can be much more subtle.
2. Authentication: How can users trust that the site is really the one it says it is? Imagine you’re a content site that gives financial or medical advice. If I operated such a site, I’d really want to tell my readers that the advice they’re reading is genuinely mine and not someone else pretending to be me.
On top of these, your users get obvious (and not-so-obvious) benefits. Myself and fellow Googler and HNer Ilya Grigorik did a talk at Google I/O a few weeks ago that talks about these and a lot more in great detail: Google I/O 2014 – HTTPS Everywhere?.
So, I will recommend this again: even though you are not selling something online and you’re only a “content site”, it’s imperative that you switch over to an https secure site. There are several reasons why, for example, an WordPress site would want to switch, but most importantly it provides for a more secure website.
But let’s talk about search engine rankings. Google has officially come out and told us now that https on a site is a search engine ranking factor. Why? Google can trust the site more. And if they can trust the website more, they’re more apt to want to rank it better in the search results. Like John Mueller said, they can trust that the content really is from you, and not someone else pretending to be you.
I’ve just started the setup process of securing my site, and I will 301 redirect all of my old URLs to the new https URLs. Let’s see how it goes, and how long it takes–and, most importantly, if my rankings and traffic increase. So, is a better search engine ranking in my future? We’ll see. I’ll share my results in the future, so you’ll want to subscribe to my weekly update (subscribe below) to see if I really can get a higher visibility in the search results.