Get more SEO with your SSL: A Case Study

Rivar Sand and Gravel are a well-known name across Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey. They’ve been established for years and are the go-to people for chippings, landscaping materials, sand and gravel etc. Wysi have been looking after their SEO for a few years now, after we rebuilt their ecommerce website on Siteglide.

So when we sent out an HTML email campaign to our clients, explaining the benefits of moving to https:// (“going SSL”), Rivar were one of the first to reply with a decisive “yes, please”. The SSL certificate was installed on October 18th and the site was checked for full compliance by our experts. (Part of the process of going SSL involves updating all scripts and image sources to https:// locations or the visitor will get SSL warnings in their browser.) The site was then ‘forced’ to https:// around the 23rd October.

A lot goes on behind the scenes when a site moves from http:// to https://. For starters, we have to tell Google about the permanent change of address. We also need to add the new address into our Google Analytics and Search Console accounts so we are monitoring the current address for traffic and conversions. (Note – is not the same network address as for Google Analytics purposes.) The Google Analytics account is then linked to the new property in Google Search Console.

associate url to account in search console

And another really important update takes place within our SEO rankings software: we need to change the website address there as well.

Aside from the back-room technical, let’s turn now to what actually happened for Rivar after moving to https:// (or SSL).

Just before we dive into the very significant gains in rankings positions, we should add that one of the reasons for changing your website to SSL is to please Google. The most popular search engine, which accounts for over 83% of search traffic, announced back in 2016 that sites not using SSL would gradually lose their rankings. Yep – Google can do what they like!

graph showing search engine traffic share google, bing

So, the message here is go SSL or lose out, if the warning is to be believed..... we decided to do some research.

Rivar Sand Gravel – An SSL/ SEO Case Study

Because we track over 400 keywords and search terms for Rivar as part of their SEO service with us, it is not practical to show all results in this case study; we have therefore taken some typical, representative examples which also make for interesting reading.

Keyword 1: gravel (it’s what they do!)

October 20th – October 27th (4 days after the conversion to SSL): dropped 3 positions. (* See note re temporary fluctuations in rankings during migration to SSL below.)
October 27th – November 9th: UP 34 positions


Competition is 98%.

Keyword 2: landscaping materials

October 20th – October 27th: dropped 4 positions.
October 27th – November 9th: UP 21 positions.

Keyword 3: paving specialists

October 20th – October 27th: no change in ranking
October 27th – November 9th: UP 19 positions.

Keyword 4: graphite grey slate chippings

October 20th – October 27th: not ranked in first 100 results
October 27th – November 9th: UP a whopping 69 places to #31

grey slate chippings rivar

* A temporary drop, or even big fluctuations in rankings, are not uncommon during the migration process; this is because Google is re-indexing and determining which network address (http:// or https://) to treat as the authoritative version. After a day or so, rankings tend to increase sharply and continue to do so where an effective SEO campaign is in place.

The ranking increases above are also borne out by increases in traffic and sales:-

wysi SEO stats siteglide
[Image taken directly from Siteglide Dashboard – financial data obscured]

In conclusion, it’s hard not to see that Google has indeed rewarded Rivar for going SSL and this is clearly reflected in the website’s higher rankings.

When you go SSL, you get more than a security certificate it seems!

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Robert Wakefield

Partner - Head of Digital Marketing
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