The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Cirlce of Legal Trust.
It isn’t often that Google openly discloses the factors it considers in its algorithm. So when they announced that sites using security certificates would be favored over ones that didn’t  (all else being equal), website owners scrambled to install SSL. The thing about measuring success in search is that the more data you have, the better.
Now that all the dust has settled and security certificates have been installed, how did all of this affect rankings in search for those that spent the time and money to enhance security?
HTTPS as a Ranking Factor
There was a lot of hype surrounding this update and that could have caused a lot of people to misinterpret the gravity of the change. For lawyers who were unaware or perhaps mislead, the algorithm change favoring HTTPS was by no means a significant one.
By that I mean, installing a security certificate on your site is not going to shoot you to the first page of the SERPs. If your site isn’t optimized well in the first place, installing a security certificate isn’t going to make any difference. Lawyers should think of it as a standard more than anything. In other words, Google views security certificates as required basic equipment and not as something that a website owner is praised for having.
Now That the Dust Has Settled
Now that some time has passed since Google’s change, it’s good to take a look back at any changes you’ve made regarding your site’s security certificate. Chances are you won’t notice much of a change. That’s because all along the algorithm change was never meant to give a lot of weight to sites that took the plunge into SSL.
Information from Google’s own blog post on the topic back in August of 2014 points out that the change would be “affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content”. A more recent post from Eric Enge provides information on a lot of testing done by SEOClarity and how many of the sites they tested in their sample showed an insignificant impact.
In Eric Enge’s post , he also points out that he learned from Google’s Gary Illyes that the https ranking signal served more as a tie-breaker. For example if two attorney website rank equally well for a particular keyword phrase, the one that has a security certificate would theoretically rank higher than another that did not.
What Should Lawyers Do Who Haven’t Made the Transfer to SSL
If you’re worried you missed out on a lot of improvement, don’t be. It’s not as if a well optimized site was suddenly demoted dozens of spots by not converting to a secure domain. If you haven’t converted though you should start thinking about doing so. Marketing online in the legal industry is extremely competitive. If your competitors have sites that are as equally well optimized as your own, having SSL installed on your site can mean the difference between first and second page rankings.
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