On October 18, 2011, Google announced that it would begin encrypting search queries to protect users’ data and privacy. With this update, searchers can use the company’s service without worrying about security because of the default SSL or encryption protocol.
Google rolled out the query encryption update to protect the personalized search results function they provide users. The team improved the default search experience for signed-in users by directing them to Google’s URL that begins with a Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure or HTTPS instead of HTTP alone. This means that search queries, as well as SERPs, are encrypted.
Prior to this update, the SSL or Secure Sockets Layer protocol has been the standard setting for signed-in Gmail users since January 2010. The developers decided to make this the default for its search engine as well to protect searchers’ data since the service has become more and more customized based on users’ needs and preferences.
The update still informs webmasters the source of organic visitors or that the traffic came from Google. What it doesn’t tell them is the specific query that led users to their website. Another analytics data from Google Webmaster Tools that site operators can use is an aggregated list of the top 1,000 searches that directed traffic to their domain for the month.
The query encryption update influenced the use of security certificates for most websites in the industry. Today, a majority of domains use the protocol to increase privacy for users. At the time, though, it disrupted organic keyword referral data and returned the “not provided” error for some organic traffic.
As mentioned above, most websites nowadays have a security protocol for their domains. Moreover, on August 6, 2014, Google announced that they’re giving a slight advantage to sites with an SSL certificate or those that begin with HTTPS in the SERPs.
While it may be hard to determine how significant the impact of a security certificate is on your rankings, using this feature along with putting in the effort on other ranking factors such as creating top-notch content and acquiring high-quality backlinks can considerably boost your position in the results pages.
It’s fairly easy to set up SSL for your website. Here are the steps:
Once you have a copy of the final certificate in a .crt file, you just need to open the document, copy the entire thing and paste it in the control panel. Access your page to check if the installation was successful.