When we wrote our e-book that was released a few weeks ago, we mentioned that Google’s emphasis on SSL in their rankings would only continue to increase. In the last two months, we’ve seen a major shift in the way Google is handling websites that don’t have SSL certificates installed. Here are the highlights:

– Every non-SSL secured website has officially been logged and flagged in Google Chrome.  Every single one.  What this means is that if your website does not have an SSL certificate installed, a box that says “not secure” comes up next to your web address in the address bar.  And while it may not seem like an issue if a user isn’t using Chrome, other browsers such as Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer have begun to follow suit as well.

– Non-SSL secured websites are now dropping off of Google’s search results, and it may be due to visitors, not Google directly. That “not secure” flag can cause visitors to leave your website shortly after visiting or once they notice the warning. Both of these factors (“bounce” rates and time spent on your website” are major factors in Google’s ranking algorithms that will lower your website in the rankings, slowly at first, but gaining speed as more and more users establish this pattern.

– To tie this in with our SEO blog from last week, Google is also ramping up their focus on the content quality of websites. Specifically, the EAT principles (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness). They’re now placing an emphasis on websites that have very apparent contact information, a privacy policy and terms of service, and share links to other websites and vice versa. Google is now looking at website content and checking to see if: 1) the content is authentic, 2) the content is accurate, and 3) the content is trust-worthy (this is where having other websites link to yours comes in).

While that last one doesn’t deal specifically in SSL, it was a big enough change that we thought it warranted throwing it in here for your consideration. As you can see, Google is making massive changes in how they view and rank websites, and SSL is at the core of it. It’s no longer an optional add-on; it’s a necessity if you want your website to be seen by others.