What the heck is HTTPS and why content marketers need to learn more

by Dennis Yu on Sep 04, 2014

HTTPS content marketing learn more

On August 6th, Google mentioned in this blog post that https is a ranking factor.

If your site isn’t https (secure, as evidenced by the lock closing in the browser), then you’re not going to show up as often in search results and you’ll lose track of referral traffic sources.

Rewind 10 years ago and we had all agreed that putting https site-wide was a dumb thing. It slowed down load times by 3-4 seconds on each page, creating a terrible user experience. And Google wasn’t able to crawl the page, causing you to not even show up. We recommended then that you make secure only pages that collected sensitive information, such as credit cards, birth dates, or other transactional information.

Today, SSL adds only a second to page load times. Google, Facebook, twitter, and all major networks recommend you put https everywhere, as shown in this video:


We used to live in the public web, where anyone could browse anonymously. Some people call this the open web, and there are still some sites that don’t require a login to participate.

But now you can’t get around the web without a login. oAuth (open authentication), where you log in with your Facebook, Google, or other credentials, means you aren’t creating new usernames and passwords at every site you visit.

Now all sites are tied together.

So if you have SSL only on the checkout pages of your site (a common trend), you drop that continuous experience. Try visiting Facebook, for example, when you’re logged out. You miss the richness that comes from them knowing who you are.

facebook no login

It also, as cynics will point out, paves the way for frictionless e-commerce. Single sign on and full-time https means one-click payments. And we know that our data is worth more to the social networks (which I’m loosely including Google in) than any monthly fee you pay.


You can grab SSL certificates from nearly any hosting or domain provider.

You probably already have one, but may need to upgrade to a wildcard or multi-site certificate. Just make sure it covers all the stuff you own.

hostgator SSL

Your web guy can explain this all to you. It’s not a big deal and can cost you under $100 normally, minus the 30 minutes of labor for your web guy to get it going.

Small investment. Significant results.


Once implemented, go check your Google Analytics, and you’ll see a lot more of your data showing up.

People have been hammering Google for hiding keyword referrals from organic search (the “not provided” issue), as well as showing most referral traffic as “direct/none”. Guilty as charged on the former, but the latter is partially your fault.

When users move from a secure site to a non-secure site, the http protocol drops any secure information, which includes the referral. This is not a Google issue.

So that traffic will show up as “direct/none”, which means type-in or bookmark traffic. We’ve seen sites show 60% in this bucket, which is obviously not possible. It’s usually because their homepage is not secure.

Ten years ago, I worked at a search engine. My take is Google doesn’t play well with referrals from social networks. Even with their failed attempt at Google+, Google still doesn’t want to share data with Facebook. And the reverse is true. Each of these major networks wants to hog their data to drive their own advertising platform revenues.


But you, as a marketer in the middle, should still be implementing https (site-wide SSLs) to be capturing first party data (your own site data). Use a tag manager such as the free one that Google offers. It’s called Google Tag Manager and integrates with Google Analytics (not a surprise, right).

And you’ll see that your search traffic increases, user experience improves, and analytics gets a boost. All from some seemingly small technical change.

And as a social marketer, the impact of https will likely only increase. We know Google mentioned that they take SSL into account for search rankings. Facebook and Twitter are focused on showing higher quality content in the social stream.

Take into account Facebook’s Bing partnership, and they have the resources and motivation to also look to https as a content metric. Facebook is also now heavy into retargeting, so being able to track their users smoothly offsite could be aided by encouraging more SSL use. 

Digital marketers need to seriously consider making this change to their sites. Let us know what you think and the results you are seeing from this tweak!

Post Author

Dennis Yu is the CEO of BlitzMetrics. He is an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook marketing, having been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, TechCrunch, Fox News, and CBS Evening News. He...

  • Some people may claim that https doesn’t affect search rankings. It probably shouldn’t, since it’s more for engines than users. But if you want the referral data, do it. Improve the user experience. Don’t game the engines.

  • tonydbaker

    Speed and security are both factors in ranking. Fortunately there are ways to do both. One such way is to consider a content delivery network such as Cloudflare. For $20 a month you can speed up the user experience while locking everything under SSL at the same time. Likewise, there are a lot of great CDN options by Cloudfront, LiquidWeb and more.

  • Good post Dennis!

  • Right on Dennis! Timely post.

  • Michael R. Hunter

    Awesome post Dennis! Thanks for sharing.

  • Michelle Cubas

    For a newbie, your article hit the spot! Thanks, Dennis.

  • Nikko

    Having a secure site adds trust authority from visitors and potential customers. Most paying customers are advised to look for HTTPS within the URL to ensure that their transactions are safe.

  • May` I tell you something`that is Really` interesting` and `worth` paying` `attention`. An `effective` and `excellent` online` `opportunity` to work` for those people` who want to `utilise` their free time so that they can `Earn some `extra `Money` using their `computers`… I have been `working`time so that they can `Earn some `extra `Money` using their `computers`… I have been `working` on this for last two and half years and I am earning` 60-90 `dollar`/ hour` … In the `Past` `Week` I` Have `Earned` 13,70 `DoLLars` For `Almost `20` hours` `Sitting` ….

    `Any` Special“kind` of `Skills, `Degree` or Specific qualification is not `required` for this, just `typing` and a `good` `working` and `reliable` `internet` `connection` ….

    `Any` `Time` `Boundations` to `Start work` is not `Required` … You may do this `work` at any `time` when you `Willing` to do it ….

    I have Been Working on this and Getting Results…..….Hope over to“website“ `page` `LINK` which is on Prrof!le of mine


  • I `Started` `WoRking` `from` `COmfort` `OF` My` `HOMe`, By` `Working` `SOmE` very` `Basic` `jObs` That `Only `rEquired` A` `Pc` &` `Internet` `Access` `&` It’s the `Best `Job` I `EVer` `HAd… It’s Been `six` `months` since I` started `This` and i got `Paid` so far in total 36 `Thousand` `Dollars`… Basically I` `profit` `80` `dollars`/hour` And work` for` 3 to 4 h` on daily basis.And the best part about this `Job` is that You get` to `Choose` Yourself when To `Work` and for how long and you Get` a `Paycheck` `weekly.Hope over to“website“ `page` `LINK` Which Is On `Prrof!le` of mine


  • Google gives you a great opportunity to

    98652$/WEEk at your home .If you

    are some intelligent you make many more Dollars.I am

    also earning many more, my relatives wondered to see how i settle my

    Life in few days thank GOD to you for this…You can also make cash i

    never tell a lie you should check this I am sure you shocked to see

    this amazing offer…I’m Loving it!!!! ☻ ▼ ▼ ▼


    »»»»»»»»» Go to my Account For WE

    @ 222222