SSL May Affect Google Rankings

There appears to be even more steps towards killing the ability to properly track SEO analytics. According to a new report that popped up on the Wall Street Journal, Google Head of Spam Matt Cutts is hoping that Google will allow him to give better rankings to websites with SSL certificates (an https address instead of just http). That simple change in the algorithm can not only be more costly for site owners, it may cause some problems with keyword research.

With the current Heartbleed debacle, Google may very well decide to side with Matt with his suggestion now that his “opinion” has legs and a verifiable exploit to prove its value. However, if your website doesn’t sell products or collect customer information, will the benefits be perceptual or will there truly be a disadvantage not to have it regardless?

Additionally, SSL has notoriously caused problems with properly tracking some pieces of analytical data and most importantly keywords. Yahoo! recently made the SSL jump and lost more than half of their documented traffic as it got pigeonholed as Direct traffic and not attributed to Yahoo. They’ve made some adjustments to fix the problem, but will the average website owner be able to properly capture that data when they suffer the same fate?

Only time will tell what will happen in this nuance if and when it occurs, but we’ve heard from some sources that Google already has pieces of their algorithm that focuses on the presence of an SSL and views is as an authority piece since websites with secure socket layers are less likely to be fly by night.

While an SSL certificate only runs about $50 a year, is it still fair to give websites that have them a ranking advantage?  All being equal, if your site doesn’t collect data from customers, should a competitor that does collect names and emails have an advantage over you simply because they have an SSL certificate?

What are your thoughts? Concerned, relieved, or ticked?

SSL Direct Traffic



Yahoo Traffic

Yahoo! Picks Up the Ball

Yahoo Traffic

Yahoo! has begun making their visits actually show up under an alternate listing in analytics. As we had reported previously, Yahoo moved to a secure layered website to further protect their customers. The result was a dramatic dip in Yahoo! traffic that had most websites see a 60%+ dip in Yahoo traffic which was then categorized as “Direct” Traffic.

Yahoo! apparently listened because many will now see a new listing in the Referrer area for Yahoo! that shows up as along with the previous listing of simply Yahoo. Be sure to double check your traffic referral numbers and search for instances of this new entry when pulling your numbers if you’re assessing the traffic from Yahoo. And you are looking at that, right?

Keep in mind, that while it does fix a lot of the viewable traffic from Yahoo, it does not fix the entire problem as most businesses are still short about 10-15% of the usual traffic. We imagine they’ll keep working through the identification of that lost traffic, but at least it’s getting closer to normal.