Encryption

Blog tutorial Encryption

WHAT IS ENCRYPTION IN SEO?

HTTPS is an encrypted version of the HTTP[1] protocol. It allows for the transferring of data between search engines and servers. The "S" in https is short for "secure", which is a secure version of the HTTP protocol. URL addresses look like this:

http://www.example.com

This is an example of an unencrypted URL and encrypted URLs look like this:

https://www.encryptedpage.com (notice the "s" in https)

Encrypted traffic protects websites from modifications and from capturing of the transmitted data.

Since August 2nd, 2018, Chrome browser[2] has been marking unencrypted websites as unsecured:



AN EXAMPLE OF WEBSITE ENCRYPTION


The lock icon indicates that BizDb is secure. The URL of the website is displayed as https://www.bizdb.co.uk.


HOW EXPENSIVE IS ENCRYPTION?

The SSL certificate, which allows to encrypt websites is free at letsencrypt.org[4].


ENABLING ENCRYPTION ON A WEBSITE

The process of enabling the SSL certificate requires specific knowledge. A useful guide for SSL installation with letsencrypt is available at:

https://www.linode.com/docs/security/ssl/install-lets-encrypt-to-create-ssl-certificates/[3]

Those who own a hosting with a directadmin panel can use the installer available in the panel. The guide can be found at:

https://kb.website-solution.net/directadmin-setup-free-automatic-ssl-certificate-from-lets-encrypt/?lang=en[5]


WHAT TO DO ONCE THE SSL HAS BEEN SET?

There are still a few steps left. First, redirect all of the links to the encrypted version. In order to do that, find the .htaccess file on your server and type (Caution! Make a backup copy of the .htaccess file before implementing any changes):

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://example.com << type the URL of your website in the place of example.com

Adding an encrypted version of the website in the panel of Google Search Console[7] is advised.

Google will eventually find the encrypted URLs and will not display the warning anymore. However, speeding this process up by logging in to Google Search console is recommended. Next, you have to click “download” and then “download as Google” on the left side of the menu.

The next step is checking if there are any unencrypted links (also to images) left on the website. Changing the links to the https:// version is recommended.



The list of images without encryption can be found in reports from Pulno.




Then, click the “Request indexing” button and choose the “Index this URL and its direct links” option. The only thing left to do now is wait until Google visits your website. This usually takes a couple of days.


SSL ERRORS


Many parameters related to the SSL certificate are checked during an encrypted connection. Pulno analyzer checks for potential SSL related issues. Eliminating all errors in order for the connection to be encrypted is highly recommended.


HOW ENCRYPTION IMPACTS RANKINGS

Encryption has been a factor in search engine rankings since 2014[6]. At Pulno, we believe that the impact of encryption on ranking in Google had been relatively small. However, this drastically changed in August 2018 when Chrome started to mark websites without encryption as not secure. Users are likely to abandon websites with such a warning.


CONCLUSION

You can get the SSL certificate for free. However, implementing an encryption requires specific knowledge. Having the SSL on a website is always a good solution - it makes the communication safer and helps avoid warning messages. Over time, lack of encryption might also result in lower search engine rankings.


Sources:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTPS
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Chrome_version_history
  3. https://www.linode.com/docs/security/ssl/install-lets-encrypt-to-create-ssl-certificates/
  4. https://letsencrypt.org
  5. https://kb.website-solution.net/directadmin-setup-free-automatic-ssl-certificate-from-lets-encrypt/?lang=en
  6. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2014/08/https-as-ranking-signal.html
  7. https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
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