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How Many Law Firm Websites are Using SSL? Should You?

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Casey Meraz

Working with a lot of lawyers across the country I’m always interested to see what tactics are working for law firms and which ones aren’t. Back in August of 2014 Google announced that HTTPS will be used as a ranking signal.

Since this time Google has made multiple announcements on the importance of securing your websites and they are taking it even further now with the next Google Chrome browser update. According to an article from The Verge “Chrome 56, which is planned to launch in January, will mark HTTP login pages as “not secure” in a window next to the address bar”. While this is not really a concern for most law firm websites, it’s important to read the writing on the wall.

SSL certificates are becoming more important and Google has made their commitment to the secure web very clear. Eventually they may not even rank non secure websites. But now that it’s been over 2 years since Google’s first SSL announcement I was curious to get an idea of how many law firms are using SSL Certificates.

My interest was piqued recently by a tweet sent out from Moz’s Dr. Pete indicating that 40% of page 1 URL’s were secure.

Mozcast Tweet

This got me wondering how many law firms are using SSL. To get a basic idea I conducted a very simple test.

The HTTPS Test We Conducted

Since we work with a lot of personal injury lawyers which is a cut throat field I decided to base my test off of their results.

First I started by pulling the top 50 cities in the United States by population from Wikipedia. Next I simply conducted a series of Google searches to figure out which websites ranked on the first page for “Personal Injury Lawyer” in their geographic area. The results were stunning.

The Results of the HTTPS Test

The results of this simple experiment were a bit shocking to me. As early adopters to most technology requirements I figured that many others would have followed suit over the past 2 years.

The average number of secure pages in the top 50 cities on page 1 for personal injury keywords was 3.06.

That means that just over 30% on average had websites ranking on the first page of Google for personal injury lawyers in these cities.

Can you guess the city with the most SSL results? If you guessed Phoenix you would be right with 7/10 first page organic results using SSL.

Interestingly enough Kansas City and Miami tied for last with just 1/10 results being encrypted.

You can see where your city ranks below:

Should You Go SSL?

Going SSL can be a big decision. In my opinion the benefits usually far outweigh any cons assuming that you do it the right way. That’s the big caveat. With SSL installations there are a lot of WRONG things you can do so it’s important to work with a professional when making this transition.

Here are the main reasons I’m for SSL Certificates for Law Firms:

  • Google is clearly heading this direction you don’t want to be left in the dust if they roll out broader unsecure warnings to the popular chrome browser.
  • You already handle secure information from contact forms, etc. Making this transmission secure is the right thing to do.
  • Your website should always be the least imperfect. Having a solid website results in stronger returns.
  • There should be a small SEO value in having a secure website.
  • Trust. SSL certificates add trust to visitors on your website.

One of the reasons that people may persuade you not to use encryption is that HTTPS Uses A Lot Of Server Resources. You should definitely make sure your server is capable of handling these requests but this should not be an issue if you have already been concerned with site speed in the past.