Today I’m going to investigate the why behind how do SSL certificates work in regards to keyword rankings. Some of us who work on the web are at the mercy of big-Daddy Google. It’s why I’m a huge proponent of building some sort of brand that you and only you own.
I’m a huge proponent of this because one day, roughly two years ago, I made an “oopsie” right here on Trouble. As I launched my book, I changed my permalink structure. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s this part in red below:
Ideally a blog should have this format: https://ukraineliving.com/travel-to-kiev/
In any case, my Google traffic dried up. And I was launching a book on that very day I made the change. My search traffic went from (I’m guesstimating here because I have no idea) around 500 to around 50. People couldn’t find any of my content.
That was the day I became worried about how much power search engines had over me.
This leads me to my point today—how do SSL certificates work in regards to ranking on Google? It’s no secret now that SSL helps you. But how much?
(For those of you who don’t know what SSL is, a brief definition is that it secures your site on a higher level. We’ll keep it basic for the purposes of this article about SEO/SSL.)
I decided to use my niche site, UkraineLiving.com, as a test dummy. I bought a cheap SSL certificate on Namecheap (linky) and figured I’d use a combination of Alexa rankings and search engine traffic to see how these progressed.
I installed the SSL on December 6th, 2016. At the time, Ukraine Living was ranked 1,772,514 worldwide on Alexa. You can also see that it’s definitely getting a much higher percentage of organic SEO traffic over the last two months. This snippet is taken on a weekly basis from the beginning of November. I would say that last week is a moot point as it was the Christmas holiday.
You can see that it’s definitely spiked upward in the three weeks since that SSL certificate was installed.
The other great thing is that people are finding what they want. They’re very engaged and staying on the site for a good period of time. Take a look at the behavior metrics when people find the site:
I think Alexa is a bit of a crapshoot but it’s probably worth sharing this anyway. Again, Ukraine Living was 1,772,514 on 12/6. In the weeks since, here’s how I’ve climbed up the rankings. I started taking daily snapshots five days after the fact.
1,772,514 on 12/6
1,545,650 on 12/11
1,478, 513 12/12
1,448,681 on 12/14
1,402,952 on 12/16
1,352,817 on 12/17
1,329,612 on 12/18
That’s right, top 1 million! Not too shabby for a little niche site that I’ve invested very little time in.
Frankly, it’s probably worth the $9 a year investment just to say you’re secured. While I don’t think the certificate alone was responsible for the upward Alexa ranking and search engine growth, it certainly doesn’t hurt. At $9 annually for some of Namecheap’s low-end certificates (which will be just fine for bloggers, niche sites and small businesses owners), it’s literally peanuts.
I’ll try to get another update out regarding this in the next few months. I’m looking forward to seeing where Ukraine Living goes in 2017!
PS: This SSL certificate is the exact one running on Ukraine Living.