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

By
Real Estate Agent with Ocean Capital Lending & Ocean Capital Real Estate Services Group NMLS# 1990881 SL# 3516742

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 |  GoSIMC

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 and a Master’s of Business Administration. She is currently a Ph.D. student working on her Doctor of Philosophy with a concentration in Marketing. She is a US Navy Veteran and the president and founder of GoSIMC Inc. Her marketing firm specializes in providing website & IDX solutions for busy real estate professionals that want to dominate the search engines.  She has authored several books, Internet courses, and direct marketing manuals for small businesses and real estate agents around the world.   

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.

 

 Leave a Review on Active Rain About Our VIP Services for Real Estate
 
 
 
 

 

 Experience the POWER of Marketing Automation through a Simple Magic Trick!

    Show Me the Magic!    

 

 

 

 

Comments (31)

Katerina Gasset
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Wellington, FL
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services

I respectfully disagree that this is a good thing. It is not good for small businesses   who are across different niches and spaces with multiple websites. 

It is not good for affiliate marketers who have to have dozens of review sites on specific products in order to do Amazon sales, etc. 

First google VP said ( a past one) that the internet is a big cess pool and the only way to clean it up is by favoring big brands on google. What a diss that was to the small agent and other business owners competing online. 

Thank goodness for rank brain because google's artificial intelligence no longer plays favorites as it evolves to again favor well SEO'd niche websites. 

So what is the next way they can get the small fish out of the sea- ahh- SSL certificates, super expensive. That is a logical step to force the small fries to shut down multiple niche websites. 

We have over 22 websites across different niches- some are not even related to the others in a way where consolidation would even make sense. 

My only hope for marketers is that the price of SSL will go down super low or even be offered for free by website hosting companies before the little red x is shown in the browser. 

I know people who make like $500 a year off of a multitude of websites making them a decent living. If an SSL certificate is $299 a year out of that $500, Google forced their income to be cut in half. 

And this is not even mentioning the government's Department of Justice once again getting involved with our websites and forcing website compliance that is super intensive and expensive right now too. Funny how they only have one approved vendor who does not even give pricing on their website-- which means it is more than just a few dollars. 

I normally have positive things to say, but this is one of my pet peeves. Rant over. 

Jan 04, 2017 07:00 PM
Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA

I'm with you Katerina.  SSL is a complete waste of money on our parts and 100% not needed.  See my answer for why.

Jan 06, 2017 04:21 PM
Kim Stuart

Let's Encrypt offers SSL certificates that meet Google's requirements for free.  You'll need to renew every 90 days, or else set up your cPanel to auto-renew (the latest version has this capacity), or you'll have every browser displaying an expired certificate warning. 
Web hosting companies and domain registrars don't like the free version at all.  
We pay $42 yearly for the SSL cert that we use for our pay pages, and the free option doesn't work with our merchant account provider. 
If your website has no user logins, no forms, no comments enabled, you'll likely be able to get by without any SSL install for quite a long time.  
I would be more concerned about how my sites tested in mobile friendly results with Google than SSL right now - https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly

Jan 04, 2017 10:17 PM
Cheryl Waller, MBA

I understand your concern, but like Kim said, there is a free option available with Let's Encrypt. If your hosting provider supports auto-renewals, then that is a good option. There are also many low cost versions of the DV certificate (which basically just verified control of the domain). As long as you have the time and skills to do-it-yourself, there are many ways to get an SSL at little to no cost.


Not that the scope of this post included multiple domains or multi-site installs, but there are options for wildcard and multi-domain certifications that are more cost effective than buying individual certifications. If you are running multiple websites as a way to make a living and that is your primary ‘gig’ then keeping your website up-to-date and competitive is part of the ‘job’. Setting up a website once and expecting it to work as a cash cow continuously with no additional work is a pipe dream. Even if you are on WordPress, plugins constantly need updating. Every time I log into a client’s website there is at least one plugin that needs an update. And, yes, there are programs like WPCommander that take care of all your updates on autopilot, but then they also auto-break websites when it is least convenient. Upgrading your website to the next communication technology is no different. You have to keep up to date and you have to keep competitive to stay ahead of the game.


You can also choose to do nothing. No one is (currently) saying that any website will be inoperative without an SSL certificate. I am not sure what the reference was on the DOJ approved vendor list, so I cannot comment on that. I do know that you can buy an SSL certificate from a long list of suppliers and many offer very good prices for even a multi-domain certification with multiple SANs.


Hope some of that helped and I apologize if I ruffled any feathers ;)

Jan 05, 2017 04:24 PM
Katerina Gasset

Hi Kim Stuart  You just confirmed what a pain in the rear this is and certainly I would not be using the free verions without good support from the hosting company. The price will come down over time. Even at $42 per month x 22 sites, + hosting fees + email list fees + +++++ yes, there is a cost to doing business but lately the government and google and other big box companies make this stuff up to make it more difficult for small business owners. 

Jan 05, 2017 04:43 PM
Kim Stuart

Cheryl - you are spot on with the wildcard and SAN certs for multisite or subdomain configs -- there's no LE or other free version for those.  You can run a multisite with SNI configs and individual certs if you have it set up properly.   Quite a pain in the butt and much easier to hire someone to manage for most people (including me!).
Nestor - the cost at $42 that I mentioned was per year, not monthly, so it's quite a difference in total spent over the course of a year.  For everything we have that is SSL that does not host a payment page (which is all but two of our sites) we are happy with the Let's Encrypt certs, especially now that it can be set up to autorenew using cPanel and it's like set it and forget it.  

There are definitely still costs to doing business, but that's one that most people can offset with a bit of planning. 

Jan 05, 2017 04:58 PM
Sondra Meyer:
EXP Realty, LLC - Corpus Christi, TX
See It. Experience It. Live It.

Thanks for a providing a bit more explanation about why I'm hearing so much about SSL certificates lately. Nestor & Katerina Gasset - your comment was very informative.

Jan 04, 2017 07:38 PM
Cheryl Waller, MBA

Thank you for the feedback Sondra! I appreciate it!

Jan 05, 2017 04:25 PM
Julie Larson Realtor® Sarasota FL 941-284-9826
White Sands Realty Group FL | 941-284-9826 | Serving Sarasota, Manatee & Charlotte Counties - Sarasota, FL
When you're thinking of moving...ThinkSuncoast.com

I jumped on the SSL bandwagon several months ago when I added Sucuri to help protect my website. They got me all set up with an SSL certificate. Much to my dismay, my site was all goofed up and it was displaying incorrectly. After several days of going back and forth with Sucuri and my IDX provider, IDXBroker, it turns out that IDXBroker doesn't support SSL at this time. 

Once IDXBroker is able to support SSL, I will then re-activate my SSL certificate.

Thank you for posting, Cheryl Carradini!!!   :)

Jan 04, 2017 07:56 PM
Kim Stuart

SSL sites will not display non-SSL content in a frame.  It's usually just a blank screen area that appears instead.  

Jan 04, 2017 10:13 PM
Cheryl Waller, MBA

With IDXbroker, you can use the IDXBroker subdomain instead of the custom domain for your search pages while securing the rest of the site. You will get mixed content warnings on the search pages, but IDXbroker has been able to make widgets and CSS work in a secure environment and is already working toward 100% compliance. The issue is (and this is mls by mls) that MLS providers are not all 100% compliant. So, IDX providers have feeds from a percentage that are providing and a percentage that are not providing secure feeds. Http iframes and feed content will work just fine on https, but not the other way around. There are some IDX providers that are not offering, and do not intend to offer (at this time) a solution that will work with SSL. Those are the providers that agents should move away from. If they are not interested in at least making the attempt to upgrade their service, then what good are they doing? Collecting your monthly fees? They should, in my opinion, be constantly working to improve the service. IDXbroker is doing just that. So, it might be your local MLS. I would get on your local MLS to upgrade their feed and I am sure that as soon as your MLS is ready, IDXbroker will be right there ready and waiting. I hope you get it soon!

Jan 05, 2017 04:40 PM
Richard V. Foster, Esq.
Nevada Perfect Homes - Henderson, NV
Broker (58356) - ABR/M, CREN, CRS, GRI, RRG, SFR

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
Cheryl Waller, MBA

Congrats on law school! I don't know how less complex that will be, but I commend you for moving forward with your education. I am currently studying for my PhD in marketing. It's definitely difficult to balance full-time work and school. But, it can be done! Good luck!

Jan 05, 2017 04:49 PM
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
Kim Stuart

Look at Let's Encrypt certifictes, Jerry, they are free.  They need to be renewed every 90 days, so if you don't set it up automatically in your cPanel (new version) then you'll need to remember to renew manually, or all browsers will show an expired cert error when a surfer hits your pages. 


 

Jan 04, 2017 10:12 PM
Jerry Lucas

Kim Stuart thanks for the tip. I had not heard of Let's Encrypt before. GoDaddy has installation instructions at https://www.godaddy.com/help/install-a-lets-encrypt-ssl-apache-20245

Jan 05, 2017 08:03 AM
Cheryl Waller, MBA

Running your payments through PayPal meets PCI requirements for processing credit cards. If and when you decide to install an SSL certificate, there will still be other PCI requirements that might make it easier to keep PayPal. I don't think that Google is penalizing non-https sites as they are preferring sites with SSL. If I had two people applying for the same job and one has a degree in business, I can't say that I am penalizing the guy without it. I would just prefer someone with a degree in business. But, it really all depends on how you look at it. Good luck!

Jan 05, 2017 05:00 PM
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
Cheryl Waller, MBA

Yes, always changing! Thank you for your feedback! I appreciate it!

Jan 05, 2017 05:42 PM
Greg Mona
West USA Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Professional Real Estate Representation for YOU!

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
Cheryl Waller, MBA

Hi Greg. Sorry about the headache!  I agree that keeping up is challenging. I always keep a bit of Tylenol nearby! Thanks for the feedback! I appreciate it!

Jan 05, 2017 05:45 PM
Anna Hatridge
R Gilliam Real Estate LLC - Farmington, MO
Missouri Realtor with R Gilliam Real Estate LLC

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

Jan 05, 2017 07:45 AM
Cheryl Waller, MBA

Thanks for the feedback Anna! I appreciate it!

Jan 05, 2017 05:45 PM
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
Cheryl Waller, MBA

Hi Rochelle. Thanks for the feedback! I appreciate it!

Jan 05, 2017 05:46 PM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
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
Cheryl Waller, MBA

Even if they do not have it yet, I would just check with them to see if it is on the horizon. Thanks for the feedback Jan! I appreciate it!

Jan 05, 2017 05:46 PM
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, 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
Cheryl Waller, MBA

Happy New Year Diana! Thanks for the feedback! I appreciate it!

Jan 05, 2017 05:47 PM
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
Eileen Burns
Trans State Commercial RE Ft. Lauderdale/Miami/Palm Beach - Fort Lauderdale, FL
FLorida Real Estate Connector

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
Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA
https://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
Kim Stuart

While you may think it's unneeded, and I may agree with you (I do!) - Google has taken the stance that if you have logins, comments, or anything else that passes information - not a pay page per se - then you will either install it or they will penalize you with the surfer for not doing it...  so if you collect any form data on your site, Chrome browser will pop the warning up on your pages.  That's the initial plan.  
The other part of the SEO plan is that Google will index and rank sites using SSL more faorably.

If all you have on your page is here is who I am, my blog, and my listings, but no comments, forms, or logins, then you're good to go for the foreseeable future.  

Jan 06, 2017 04:52 PM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

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
Jill Nelson
Jill Nelson Design Services - Palmdale, CA
Interior Design

Thanks for the important infromation.

Jan 09, 2017 10:06 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success 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
Carmen Brodeur, JD
Trillium Properties, LLC - Scottsdale, AZ
Realtor

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
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
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