Late in 2016 Google announced that it would begin marking sites which collect sensitive information as non-secure unless they were HTTPS secure. For real estate professionals, this change is having a direct impact on their SEO rankings and the ability to capture leads.
Since 2014, when Google first called for SSL everywhere on the web, many agents have taken action to make their websites secure. However, others had a startling wake-up call on February 1st this year, when they found their HTTPS website marked as non-secure. So what happened?
Your Website is Not Secure Unless Your Plugins are Secure
Unless every part of your website is secure, your website is not considered secure by Google and other search engines, and will be marked as such. Real estate websites were particularly affected by this as a lot of content can come from 3rd parties – especially your IDX plugin.
If your IDX plugin is not secure and your provider does not support SSL (Secure Socket Layer, the certificate that provides the security layer) then you should make the change to a secure IDX plugin now. If you are collecting sensitive information, especially passwords, and your website is not SSL secure, your visitors will see an alert that your website is not secure. In the near future, that alert will expand to any pages with contact forms.
For now, viewers are alerted with a small unobtrusive message. However, the plan is to increase the visibility of all HTTP sites with a red triangle to further identify unsecured sites. This is bad for business because not too many people are willing to fill in forms (i.e. “sign up”) on websites that are marked as “not secure”.
Your SSL Certification Status Impacts Your SEO
SSL certification has an impact on your search rankings (SEO). Along with the alerts served up when you’re not HTTPS encrypted, Google announced (beginning in 2014) they would start assigning a ranking signal for HTTPS/SSL within their search algorithms. At that time, the ranking signal was lightweight, but it has gained importance over the years.
Google is now considering the use of a punitive stick along with the incentivizing carrot to force the issue. What does that mean? By implementing SSL on your website, you stand to be rewarded with higher SEO rankings, but if you don’t change you may see Google down rank your website.
For the real estate businesses, this is a pretty big deal. With the latest trends in real estate marketing moving towards hyperlocal marketing, most Realtors depend on high search ranking visibility in their local markets (you can read more about hyperlocal marketing in real estate here). So the moral of this story is, if your website in not HTTPS secure or even if your website is secure but your IDX isn’t, now is the time to switch to a secure IDX provider like Buying Buddy. 2017 is the year of the SSL certification/HTTPS website for everyone.