2017 Changes to SEO with SSL Certificates. Google Shaming? No!

Services for Real Estate Pros with SIMC Corp

For some time now, there has been chatter in the SEO world that SSL will soon become the standard for all websites. Now, this might not seem very important to you as a small business owner. But, eventually, it will be very important to every online communication with your customers and prospects.

Google has already started to display a glimpse of what is to come with SSL requirements. For now, you will see a small (i) icon to the left of a URL in Chrome. If you click on the little information icon, you will get a notice on sites without SSL that “Your connection to this site is not secure.” Eventually, that small non-intrusive icon will change to a red warning symbol. So, right now your customers and prospects may not see any reason not to trust your website, but someday soon they will.

This, in my professional opinion, is a good direction for the Internet. SSL is more than just an encrypted connection. It also confirms that you are on the website that you intended to visit. SSL certificated can be validated in several ways, but the most basic is that the website owner has verified website ownership with a certificate authority. With as many scam companies as there are that claim to be Microsoft or Google out there trying to trick you into buying virus protection software for ‘detected viruses’. We need this next step in Internet communications.

https secure socket layerSo What is SSL? Why is It Important?

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) works by encrypting the connection between a user’s device and your website. While, up until now, that has only been important for sites that collected private information or processed credit cards, the need for SSL is starting to reach non-e-commerce sites. People want to know that they are safe on the website that they are visiting and this is a way to ensure that safety. Legitimate business owners have no problem getting a certificate for their website. So, it just makes sense to weed out the non-legitimate ones with SSL.

SSL is also becoming much more accessible. So, because SSL is becoming so accessible, Google and other search engines are now giving preference to websites with SSL encryption. Soon, WordPress sites will also require SSL for full functionality.

WordPress Notice: https://wordpress.org/news/2016/12/moving-toward-ssl/

I could go on, but for those of you that want to delve further, here is a video specifically about SSL from google. It is from 2013, but still is good to explain what SSL is and how it works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ8EX61fFWQ

Don’t Panic and NO it is not Google Shaming for Non-SSL Websites!

not secureThese changes have been in the works for quite some time. They will also take a little time to take effect as business owners realize the importance of SSL for their websites. I don’t see this as Google shaming for non-https websites. I see it as a nudge in the right direction. If you have SSL, Google will rank you favorably and give you a nice green padlock. No SSL? Well, they are just going to let people know that your website is not secure. Your competitors with SSL will also rank higher than you in search results.
That’s it. It is a simple and eloquent way to make the Internet more secure. And let’s face it, Google has led the way in making the Internet a better place since … well… pretty much forever now (at least for Y-gen and beyond).

So for those of us in the X-gen and before, let’s take a look at what we need to remain competitive with our websites.

Difference in SSL Certificates

There are three main types of SSL certificates that can be used to protect your website and signal a higher level of trust with search engines. Any of them will be fine to get you that little green padlock, but some are better than others. Let’s take a look in simple terms:

httpsDomain Validated Certificates (DV) 

As the most basic of SSL certificates, this Domain Validated or DV certificate is just what it says. To get this certificate, you simply have to verify that you own the domain and have control of it. Pay the fee, get the certificate, and have it installed on your website.

Organization Validated Certificates (OV) https

To get an Organization Validated or OV certificate, you have to take that extra step of validating that your business exists. This is a step-up in that it doesn’t just verify that you have a website, but that you are an actual business owner.

Extended Validation Certificates (EV)

company nameAn extended Validation Certificate or EV Certificate does three things. It verifies control of the domain verifies the legal existence of a business, and verified the physical existence of the business. This is the only certificate that will display your business name in green.

As the Internet world matures, businesses will move toward standardization of the EV certificate. For now, just getting on board with a DV certificate will get you your green padlock and better search engine rankings. If you can afford the time and money to get the EV, I recommend that you get it. I don’t see a reason that any search engine would rank a DV, OV, and EV the same. So, if you need that extra push on search engine ranking… get the EV and maintain it.  It will be a while until your competition does.

If you have any questions about getting your website compliant or need some help getting it done, please feel free to contact us at SIMC Corp.

Posted by



as seen onCheryl Carradini, MBA | Marketing Strategist |  SIMC Corp

Cheryl Carradini, BSB/MKT, MBA, is a Marketing Strategist for  highly successful real estate professionals. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Business with a concentration in Marketing degree and a Master’s of Business Administration degree. She is currently a PhD student working on her Doctor of Philosophy with a concentration in Marketing degree. She is a US Navy Veteran and the president and founder of SIMC Corp. Her marketing firm specializes in providing Internet marketing solutions for busy real estate professionals that want to dominate their local geographic area in the search engines.  She has authored several books, Internet courses, and direct marketing manuals for small businesses and real estate agents around the world.  She lives in Vero Beach Florida with her husband, Daniel,  her youngest of three boys, Nicholas, and their dogs, an American Staffordshire Terrier named Blue and an Australian Shepard named Chloe. 

Quote: "If you do not have a marketing strategy in place, then all you are doing is spending money on marketing that ‘might work’. Marketing is the single most important function in your business and you CANNOT afford to use guesswork as a strategy.

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Re-Blogged 4 times:

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Richard Foster
Nevada Perfect Homes - Henderson, NV

I am all for internet security, especially considering how far out of control it is . . . This is simply another reason I am attending law school, this dance for Real Estate business is getting more complex by the day!

Jan 04, 2017 08:16 PM #12
Jerry Lucas
ABC Legal Docs LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Mobile Notary Colorado Springs, CO Notary Training

I do not have SSL on my websites. For an online purchase checkout, my customers are sent to PayPal and use their SSL website.

If Google penalizes my SEO for no SSL, then I will probably add it. My web host is GoDaddy, and they sometimes have a sale on SSL certificates. I will wait for sale price.

Jan 04, 2017 09:29 PM #13
Kim Stuart
Domino Research - Pleasanton, CA
Mobile wallet marketing consultants

I'll agree with most of what you've outlined here, but there are a couple of points that I think might be up for confirmation. 

First - the 'lock' icon on every browser going back to the original SSL certs has displayed the broken lock or other caution symbol with mixed content, and hasn't displayed the "green lock" or whatever the particular browser uses without proper SSL credentials being in place. 
Our understanding is that Google will only be throwing up error notices on pages that are collecting information and transmitting it, such as log ins, pay pages, and pretty much all forms that use send data from the browser to  the server.  The rest of the pages are not collecting or passing any information (although comments are using a form entry type setup so if you have comments enabled then your blog posts could get hit).

More important to SEO at the moment is making sure that sites are mobile friendly, since that's an immediate Google issue, but a different discussion. 

Wordpress is not going to require sites to use SSL.  Matt's comment was directed specifically at the hosts that are recommended on the hosting page, as certain REST API calls will not work without SSL in place, thus the use of the word available. 

SSl certificates are now available for free from Let's Encrypt (which the Wordpress comment actually mentions by name), and are fine for Google requirements going forward.  The only drawback to LE certs is that they must be renewed every 90 days (instead of yearly with others like Comodo or GeoTrust).  
The latest cPanel update (if you are using hosting with cPanel management) has the option of autorenewing SSL certs from both Let's Encrypt and Comodo; this is definitely the way to go with the process - IF you are not using Stripe and hosting their pay widget popup on your page. 
If you have multiple sites with different domains that are individual installs, then you can do the Lets Enctypt free certificates one at a time and manage them individually, so the cost is still free, its just a bit more time doing admin tasks.  

So bottom line - yes, SSL is going to be neccessary if you use forms, have user logins or allow comments on your websites.  
Yes, Google is going to be nicer to you if you go to SSL, but they will be more friendly to you if you get your mobile web in order. Test your sites on Google for free - https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly
SSL certs are available for free via Let's Encrypt.  Your host may not be the best way to handle this - they normally sell 1 year SSL certs for ~$40, and that's a big difference in price.  You can Google "[your host name] how to install Lets Encrypt certs" - and can likely find yourself enough tutorials and instructions to get through the process - just remember that they expire every 90 days like clockwork and you'll need to remember to renew or you'll get an expired certificate error on ALL browsers, not just on Chrome.  

Jan 04, 2017 10:09 PM #14
Michelle Gordon
JH Realty Partners - Ada, MI
Finding Your Place

Thank you for this information! Ugh the ever changing web, hard to keep up sometimes, however this is a good thing for sure! Now I have some work to do! 

Jan 05, 2017 03:12 AM #15
Greg Mona
RE/MAX Platinum Living - Scottsdale, AZ
YOUR Local Real Estate and Design Resource in AZ!

Thanks for sharing all of this Cheryl Carradini . You put a lot of effort into this post an I appreciate all I have learned from reading it.  That said, I also learned a lot from reading many of the comprehensive post responses. Now my head hurts! :-)  I understand things will continue to change and evolve with the web, so that part doesn't bother me.  What does is trying to keep up with the changes and making the associated decisions for our business that make the most sense and get us the most bang for our buck. 

Jan 05, 2017 06:06 AM #16
Anna Hatridge
Goodson Realty - Farmington, MO
Missouri Realtor with Goodson Realty

Thank you so much for sharing this important information.  It will help us all.

Jan 05, 2017 07:45 AM #17
Rochelle Kretchmar
GenEquity Mortgage - Lewisville, TX
Simply Irresistible Staging

Very interesting!  I had no idea guess I better look into this a little more. Thank you!

Jan 05, 2017 01:18 PM #18
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Thank yo for the SSL info. Pretty sure my new site has it as they are constantly tweaking it for me, but I'll check.  Good to know!

Jan 05, 2017 02:40 PM #19
Diana Dahlberg
1 MONTH REALTY - Kenosha, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

Thanks for sharing this valuable information.  I need to get better educated and you just helped in that area.  Happy New Year!

Jan 05, 2017 02:42 PM #20
Melissa Spittel
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Westminster, MD
"Achieving Results Together "

Good info! I just checked my website and it's not secure! I have a Wordpress site, and according to your post, it will be required to be secure. I will now be on top of it!

Jan 05, 2017 08:16 PM #21
Eileen Burns
Trans State Commercial RE Ft. Lauderdale/Miami/Palm Beach - Fort Lauderdale, FL
FL Probate Agent, Hotel & Land Specialist

Cheryl Carradini what a wealth of information from your primary post and fellow comments from the #Active Rain community members.  Well worth a re-blog

Jan 06, 2017 10:32 AM #22
Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA
www.HugginsHomes.com - Thousand Oaks, CA
Residential Real Estate and Investment Properties

I'm sorry, but having worked in Information Security for 10 years SSL is absolutely NOT needed for real estate websites.  I had a nice discussion with GoDaddy about that when they tried to sell me on SSL.  If you have a login that lets users transfer or store sensitive information (as defined by credit card industry's PCI-DSS standard or any of the various privacy laws) then you NEED SSL for the login and the session there after.  For a site, like mine, that is simply "Here's who I am, my blog and my listings" there is absolutely no need for SSL.  Even if you have an IDX search you have no need for SSL... even if someone logs in to save their favorites (none of that data is protected under any privacy regulation).

Jan 06, 2017 04:19 PM #23
Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist

Another racket in my opinion.  There is no reason a real estate website needs to be secure.  Hopefully Google will wake up to that and get some exceptions in place. 

Jan 06, 2017 08:24 PM #24
Kim Stuart
Domino Research - Pleasanton, CA
Mobile wallet marketing consultants

This popped into my inbox today, article about Lets Encrypt and how they are doing  -- https://wptavern.com/lets-encrypt-passes-20-million-active-certificates-in-2016

Jan 07, 2017 08:22 PM #25
Jill Nelson
Jill Nelson Design Services - Palmdale, CA
Interior Design

Thanks for the important infromation.

Jan 09, 2017 10:06 AM #26
Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor, ePRO, CRS, RCS-D
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
Co-Host of Mail-Right's: Real Estate Agent Podcast

Wow, that was a lot for my brain but you explained it well. I'd had been wondering what the "circle i" was in the URL lately, mystery solved! Will large website providers just convert our sites for us, like Property Minder and Advanced Access?

Jan 15, 2017 08:07 AM #27
Patti Robinson
Polished Pillars Staging LLC - Lebanon, OH
Always Keeping Design in Mind

Thank you for this post! I am meeting with my web designers today so it is very timely for me.

Jan 16, 2017 06:36 AM #28
Carmen Brodeur
Trillium Properties, LLC - Scottsdale, AZ
Realtor & Attorney

I added SSL and switched to https, but I found out my Diverse IDX wasn't compatible. I saw a big jump in SEO when I switched so I don't want to go backwards. Does anyone know of a IDX provider that works with SSL? If so please email me carmen@topscottsdalehomes.com. Thank you!

Feb 09, 2017 08:13 AM #29
Natasha Rodriguez
Owner - Greenway, GA

Thank you for sharing this information with us. I did not know many of the details you mentioned. A few years ago, my website was not properly optimized to reach customers in specific areas. At my university, I started a trash recycling project and it has grown into an official company. We needed promotion, so more people would join the project. We contacted an agency in Atlanta for affordable marketing options. The Dalai Group team designed a plan that considered the specific needs of our company. SEO Atlanta brought attention to our company in the city: http://dalaigroup.com/seo-atlanta/. In just two months, more people were visiting the website and becoming interested in our recycling projects.

Mar 28, 2017 02:07 PM #30
Frank & Jodi Orlando
Frank & Jodi Orlando Get Us A Home Realty Atlanta Homes Sale - Cumming, GA

Very well done! You might write on chrome F12 console where you can find http links that show mixed content and will not appear on https. Primarily frames show as This request has been blocked; the content must be served over HTTPS.

Mar 30, 2018 05:39 AM #31
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