SSL Certificates, Search Rankings and the Future of Ecommerce

SSL Certificates for BigCommerce

An SSL certificate is a certificate that verifies that a secure webpage (such as a checkout page) is properly encrypted. SSL Certificates are issued by a trusted 3rd party called the Certificate Authority (CA). One of the selling points for the BigCommerce platform is the shared SSL certificate that lets even small merchants offer cost-effective secure checkout. This means that any secure pages on a BigCommerce store have been verified as encrypted. However, a recent development from Google means that it’s increasingly important for everyone to have their own private SSL certificate.

Google Boosts Search Rankings for Pages with SSL

Google has announced, via blog post, that they will improve PageRank for sites with secure connections. This is part of their larger vision for “HTTPS everywhere” on the web, which they have already implemented internally. For now, the effect will be modest, ranking below good content and other traditional drivers of ranking. But this is a rare chance to gain some transparency in seeing what drives Google rankings, and the effect will almost certainly increase in the future. It would be a mistake not to capitalize on this golden opportunity to improve your search standing.

secure checkout page

BigCommerce Benefits of SSL Protection

Google’s recent development is not the only reason to get your own SSL certificate. Having your own SSL protection has a lot of additional benefits for you as a merchant. The browser designation for protection throughout your site increases shopper confidence in your store. Without your own SSL certificate, the domain changes when shoppers move from the cart, an unsecured page, to the checkout, a page on BigCommerce’s shared SSL. BigCommerce’s shared SSL uses your store’s temporary URL, which is in the format of https://store-xxxxx.mybigcommerce.com, and may seem off-putting to any customers who notice they’ve been moved to a different domain during checkout. Staying on the same domain can help customers feel more comfortable and increase conversions. Finally, any analytics you’ve installed are disrupted by the change in certificate and domain during checkout, so it can be harder to tell what is working for your store and where potential buyers are lost along the way.

What about Performance?

SSL currently represents a small reduction in page load speed, but mostly because not every site uses it. As adoption continues to increase, it should eventually match insecure content.

What Should I Do?

BigCommerce offers a built in tool for buying and installing SSL certificates. Because the cost is modest—usually $99/year—we recommend securing your site immediately. You’ll reap the benefits in consumer confidence, conversions, analytics, and now, increased search engine traffic! And best of all, the dividend in search ranking is only likely to increase in the future. You can check your website’s security using SSL Labs’ free tool. Feel free to contact us if you’d like us to do an in-depth study on adding an SSL certificate to your store and the positive effects it will have on your SEO.

Director of Marketing

Eric is on the design and development team at IntuitSolutions. He recently moved to the Philadelphia area to work as a designer and developer after graduating from Full Sail University. His designs are often minimalistic and clean and his code is designed for a user friendly experience. He managed and owned a small business in Ithaca, NY for a while and enjoys anything that involves being creative. His other passion is music; he often plays drums for bands in NYC. While he’s not designing, developing, or playing drums, he’s spending time with his friends and family, which includes his dog Cooper.