This article originally appeared at The WHIR.
Joost de Valk, founder and CEO of SEO giant Yoast, presented a session for HostingCon Europe earlier this month in Amsterdam. He said he was surprised that when Google announced on August 6 it would use SSL for site ranking he didn’t receive a bunch of emails from service providers suggesting sites make the switch from unsecured to secured.
When the changes were announced by Google in August, the WHIR published an article to better explain what the new algorithm means to hosting providers.
De Valk believes this change in the way Google ranks is great opportunity for hosting companies. Not only can they increase revenue through the sale of SSL certificates and related services but also they can generate business by guiding the customer through the process of converting from a non-secure site to a secure one, and automating it as much as possible.
“I think there’s a huge chance here for hosting providers to show that they’re aware of what’s happening in the wider internet world and how important good hosting is for your Google ranking. With speed already being an important ranking factor and SSL now having been introduced as a new one, there’s a lot of chance for hosting providers to distinguish themselves by being on the ball,” de Valk told the WHIR in an interview.
Changing a site to https offers the opportunity to make the site faster which also helps with the latest Google search ranking signals. It’s an opportunity to use underutilized technologies called SPDY and OCSP stapling. These can be set up by a good service provider when configuring an SSL certificate. SSLGURU and StoneTemple released a guide on Tuesday that explains SSL options.
“If you explained all this…we can only do this if we sell you the certificate because otherwise setting all of this up is very hard for us to do, it actually becomes an easier upsell to also sell the certificate. There is good money in that,” deValk said in his presentation.
Mark Stathatos, director of business development at SSLGURU, explains the concept behind using SPDY technology to decrease site load time. “SPDY is a module developed by Google and basically it speeds up the TLS connections by multiplexing multiple requests through one connection. Unfortunately the tool is not compatible with all server types.” SPDY achieves speed by compression, multiplexing and prioritization.
According to W3Techs, only 2.3 percent of sites currently use SPDY. This offers service providers a great opportunity to better serve customers by making sites faster. Currently, mostly high traffic sites such as Facebook, Google and Twitter use this technique.
According to de Valk, slower loading sites are at a disadvantage when it comes to ranking. This is especially true for sites that give frequent updates such as news outlets or user generated content.
The other technology service providers can use to speed up sites is OSCP stapling. “OCSP stapling stands for online certificate status protocol and it’s basically used to check if a certificate has been revoked,” said Stathatos. “Normally the browser does this but with OCSP stapling the server is able to send it’s certificate and OCSP results with the initial certificate request. Basically, this makes it so the browser doesn’t have to download or cross reference with the certificate authority, it just saves a little bit of time.” This saves time by allowing the browser to skip an extra connection thus speeding up the site load speed for the end user.
Service providers are starting to realize the value in offering SSL to their customers. In September, Cloudflare launched Universal SSL to give every customer free certificates and Keyless SSL so that customers don’t need to share a certificate with third parties.
As demonstrated with the Google Penguin and Panda search engine ranking updates, Google continues to get smarter about how it ranks sites and also does things that benefit it’s own business from the ad side. What remains of SEO “tricks” is only about 10 percent technical, according to de Valk, however every tool is still an opportunity to improve rankings.
Beyond the tricks, Google is creating a situation where quality content is king. The strategy has shifted back much more towards making the end user happy with “real” content rather than overusing a keyword in an effort to get rankings. Coaching hosting customers on this idea is yet another opportunity for services providers to distinguish themselves and offer value.
Regarding the latest Penguin update that was just released last week, “Sites that are on top of their game likely won’t see a significant impact from these rollouts,” according to Inc. “This is especially true of sites that focus on high-quality content and resist the urge to indulge in long-abandoned activities like keyword stuffing.”
For all the latest HostingCon news and information, visit HostingCon - Premier Industry Conference and Trade Show for Web Hosting and Cloud Service Providers