crobb305 - 12:46 am on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)
Hey, didn't crobb mention in one of the posts that SSL certificates may be a factor in the recent update?
I did. In the past 18 months, my Verisign SSL certificate expired twice. Within a few months of expiration I saw big ranking drops (-50 last January, then again this year with Panda). This could be a timing coincidence, especially with the one last January, but with Panda, it really could have played a role. I just renewed the certificate this week.
If the SSL certificate played a role, it might be because I have had one for 5 years and Google was giving me a "trust" boost in the rankings. Upon expiration, perhaps that trust was diminished, ultimately reducing my rankings. This is speculative, but it seems reasonable to me. I shouldn't have ever let my SSL expire, either time. My renewal this time was for several years, so I am good for a while.
Some of the top remaining sites that survived Panda in my industry have Verisign SSL certificates. E-how has Verisign SSL. Even Google has a Verisign SSL cert effective March 27 for the next 2 years. I'm not sure if this is a brand new certificate, or if it was a renewal from March 27. Regardless, they have one. Why? Testing? I just noticed the Google/SSL Beta yesterday (which has been out for about 10 months and linked the article posted by engine above).
I think there is something to having SSL certificates from a reputable provider who does extensive verification, because they can be a sign of trust for consumers (and algorithms). Consumer awareness is increasing and they are being warned (by watchdog groups and the media) to look for https: in the address bar "before doing business online." An SSL certificate also falls into the category of "reputed credibility, 3rd party certifications and awards" in the Microsoft Web Credibility Study [webmasterworld.com]
In another thread, someone presented the argument along the lines of "why would a blog need an SSL certificate?" Granted, in theory, a blog doesn't need one. But the algorithms may not always know how much "business" is being conducted on a blog. An SSL certificate shows that the site, its owner, its contact emails/phone numbers, whois, business registration, etc are legit, and can signal quality. Some SSL certificates are better than others with respect to verification (making them more reliable). Remember, ecommerce sites were hit during Panda, and ecommerce sites would benefit most from SSL certification.