Google recently announced that it now gives a slight SEO boost to sites that utilize HTTPS encryption by default, with strongly implied plans to make this ranking signal even more important in the future.
A ranking signal is essentially a factor within an algorithm, and search engines use hundreds of different ranking signals to determine exactly where each site deserves to rank. Search engines generally keep the specifics of these ranking signals under lock and key, until they want webmasters to mend current practices and improve user experience. Considering Google's very public announcement, it logically follows that SEO-savvy REALTORS® are going to want to get a little more secure!
What You Should Do Next...
You can get a pretty good summary of what HTTPS is and does on Google's own Secure Your Site page, so I won't reiterate the same info that you can read there. Instead, let's move on to what you need to do to implement HTTPS on your own site:
2. Submit A Custom Work Order, via your product consultant. He or she will begin by getting an estimate for the implementation work, which you will then need to approve.
Once we receive your work order, we'll get to work behind the scenes. We will walk you through the steps of verifying your certificate, then we'll add the certification to your server, update the htaccess for needed page-level redirects, use protocol relative URLs for all other domains and otherwise ensure everything is hooked up and functioning properly.
After the programming and server updates have been made, we highly recommend investing some SEO time to do a few final checks and balances. If you opt in to the SEO time and have Google Webmaster Tools set up, we'll submit a Change of Address and new sitemaps, update the website information and do additional tests on the 301 redirects set up by programming.
-SSL certification must be renewed and updated annually, or every 2-3 years, depending on the option you choose to purchase. -If you choose not to renew your SSL certification, it is recommended that you revert your site to HTTP. Otherwise, users will receive an ominous warning message whenever they visit the site. -Sites with agent subdomains will require a Wildcard SSL Certificate in order to apply SSL to the subdomains. GoDaddy currently sells a Wildcard SSL Certificate for $291.
Additional Benefits Of HTTPS Security
When it comes to the benefits of getting SSL certification, SEO is really only the tip of the iceberg. The entire point behind HTTPS is to allow users to share information securely, without worry. The secure encryption on a certified site means that users can submit more sensitive information—like mortgage forms and job applications—right on your site, without worrying about their data falling into the wrong hands.
Better still, your users will know you're taking care of them. Having a trusted SSL certificate builds confidence and lets people know you're going the extra mile to keep their information safe. This increased level of trust will build better relationships and make people more willing to fill out registration and other contact forms throughout the site.
Updated August 22, 2014 at 16:18 PDT to add information on Wildcard certificates for agent subdomains.
Updated October 31, 2017 at 14:21 PDT to reflect current SSL estimate process.