With so much recent press about huge-scale data breaches (Target, Home Depot, Healthcare.gov, etc), cybersecurity is–or should be–a priority for any online business. But what about people like me who host websites or blogs that don’t sell anything or capture any data? On the surface, it would seem like we don’t need to worry about stuff like securing websites…but it looks like Google is about to make you need to worry if SEO matters to you.
Google recently announced that they’re going to start using site security as a search engine ranking factor. Rather than me trying to explain the whole thing here, just read this for an explanation of what this means, and/or this. While now SSL is only a ranking factor affecting 1% of sites in search results, the writing is on the wall that Google means to incentivize securing sites by ranking them higher. Sites that have moved to SSL are seeing gains in visibility and traffic.
Great, then those who care about this will just get an SSL certificate and that will be that, right? Well…yes, unless your site is hosted on Squarespace (like mine is). If that’s the case, it’s looking like you might be out of luck and want to consider moving to another platform, because Squarespace only supports SSL on their commerce platform, not other pages (like blogs). WordPress? No problem, but for some reason Squarespace seems set on only supporting it for commerce; there are bunches of threads about this on their support forum and they seem pretty definitive about it only being an issue for commerce sites and don’t indicate they plan on changing that view anytime soon.
Does it matter to me personally? I’m not really sure. On one hand, I say no, because this is mostly a personal site/blog at this point. But on the other, if Google is going to start downgrading visibility of sites that aren’t SSL encrypted and Squarespace can’t or won’t support that and WordPress does, why would I or anyone else want to stay with Squarespace? While Squarespace is elegant and I love my site’s design, it does have some quirks, like not always working reliably with Chrome. WordPress is far from perfect, but it’s easy and for people like me who don’t have a ton of technical expertise and mostly want a quick, easy way to host a mostly personal but also professional site, it’s an easy choice. Hopefully, Squarespace will see that and decide to support SSL because I like them and really don’t feel like having to migrate another site anytime soon.
If you’ve recently secured your site by switching to SSL, have you noticed any change in traffic or search engine visibility?