19 Sep 2014

Ignore SSL certificates and clients may ignore you

Google recently announced an update to its search algorithms, which will impact sites that don't have secure SSL certificates. But what are they and why should you be concerned? mmadigital's Dez Derry explains.

Spartak Spartak

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) creates a secure connection between your web server and your visitor's browser, making it less likely for data to be intercepted.Google believes that by penalising websites that don’t have an SSL certificate they’ll establish a benchmark that shows web users which sites are more likely to be safe to visit.The majority of large companies use SSL certificates already. However, until now these have tended to be an optional extra for smaller firms.

Any honest website without an SSL certificate will see the impact of Google’s update almost immediately, as they decrease the search rankings of those sites. This could be disastrous for law firms who do not upgrade their servers, especially as Google tell us that two million legal searches are made every day in the UK, the firms at the bottom of the pile will miss out on the chance to benefit from those searches.

The decrease is to effectively bury potential ‘scam’ websites at the bottom of search results, as Google believe those without SSL certificates are likely to be run by people looking to mine personal data for spam or fraudulent purposes.

As we’ve already explained, a low ranking on Google could sound a death knell for law firms looking to attract new consumers who search for legal services online. If you’re unsure if you have an SSL certificate or not, go to your law firm’s webpage and look at the address bar. 

If your web address starts with ‘https’ and you can see a padlock symbol in the address bar, like the one above, then you have an SSL certificate. If you do not see either of these then speak to your web hosts ASAP about upgrading your server as soon as they can.

Dez Derry is CEO of mmadigital

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