Google, the largest search engine in the world has one mission:
“Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
In other words, Google wants to provide the best and most pleasant internet experience for its users.
Simply put, Google wants to deliver content as fast and as relevant as possible to the users’ search query, tailored to the screen of the user’s device and – obviously – websites that are not a malicious threat to the user.
The browsing experience is incredibly important to Google and they’re pushing website owners to follow in their footsteps. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that Google is penalizing insecure websites.
They don’t only do that by warning the user but also by sacking websites from the top rankings, which are typically the indirect results of an insecure website.
The Increasing Importance of Privacy & Security in SEO
In the following section, I’ll discuss various important sections of website security in relation to SEO and what the future looks like.
Hackers become increasingly more sophisticated and new techniques and methods are used to compromise websites, insert malicious code or steal customer data and access the computer of the victims. SQL injection and Cross-site scripting are effective methods to hack websites, yet hard to detect.
In case you weren’t aware that input fields or other aspects of your site are injected, Google will probably let you know. Google crawls your website every now and then, if something malicious is detected, you’ll receive a message in the Google Search Console. In the SERPs, users see a notification that reads “This site may harm your computer.”
As a result, you’ll drop in the Google rankings, especially if you don’t take immediate action. All of your SEO efforts will become meaningless if you don’t fix critical security issues listed in the Search Console.
It’s also a good reminder that you should check-in on your site’s Search Console frequently. You can also request a new preview to remove your site from Google’s warning list.
Let’s take a look at a number of other topics that are incredibly important moving forward and will most likely draw the security and privacy landscape of future SEO.
Google published the following post on HTTPS late 2014:
“Over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.”
It’s a crystal clear message that Google wants to make sure websites install Secure Socket Layers (SSL) certificates to protect the user and the reward is a ranking boost, albeit it’s just a minor bump in the ranking – but hey, it’s better than nothing. Besides that, Google has hinted that it will become more significant in the future.
An HTTPS connection means that the communication channel between the user’s browser and the website is encrypted, making sure that payment information, personal details, etc are secure.
Additionally, Google released a new update a couple of months ago. “Beginning in July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure,” as stated on Chromium Blog. It’s a warning to all Chrome users who visit a website without an active SSL certificate. These users will see the following message:
It’s a clear sign for visitors to be cautious and leave the site. Surely, this will impact your SEO as visitor numbers decline, dwell-time reduces, bounce rate increases and inevitably conversions drop.
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster tools is the perfect tool to fix technical issues, security issues and broken pages. Google basically knows everything about your site and will provide you with information in case something is out of terms.
Google is constantly developing this tool, which is a sign that they keep pushing to increase the percentage of secure websites. Google wants you to take action as soon as possible. If you’re lucky and alert, it might not yet had its impact on your SEO efforts.
User Behavior & Engagement
Although HTTPS is only a minor ranking signal, it has a bigger effect on the psychological aspect of browsing the web. It’s basically a confidence boosters for visitors, knowing your site, the content and the products are safe.
That means it positively impacts user behavior, increasing user engagement, dwell-time and the conversion rate. These are extremely important ranking signals for Google and will definitely impact your ranking position in Google. Insecure websites will experience the opposite results.
My Final Thoughts
Security and privacy is increasingly more important for SEOs and I believe that user behavior is fundamentally linked to these two areas, which is one of the strongest ranking signals for Google and will only become more important going forward.
Bill here from Pixel Privacy. Whether it be one of our in-depth guides or our expertly crafted “how-to” articles, we’re here to show you how to stay safe online. We believe everyone has the power to keep their data secure, no matter what your level of tech expertise is and our site will show you how!