Recently in trade press, the question of whether websites should be made secure (all exchanged information encrypted) is being asked.
Converting a website to use secure (SSL) transport requires two steps:
- An "SSL certificate" must be purchased for each domain associated with the site. Certificates that can do that typically cost (upwards of $70/year or more) and must be continuously maintained/renewed. That cost, both in terms of dollars and administrative oversight, would have be born by each individual website owner.
- The underlying platforms (engageRE & LeadStreet in this case) would have to be modified to support SSL. This would require significant development effort to offer this as an individual option across the several thousand websites hosted by engageRE.
Based on what we know at this time (one article here), Google's policy shift to start giving a "minor ranking boost" to websites that provide secure transport, would not justify either of those investments. It appears to be more of a social legislation play ("...making the web safer for all of us...") because it is only a "lightweight signal" gain in terms of SEO.
We therefore conclude that the highly competitive nature of SEO ranking on real estate keywords would not be materially impacted by adopting SSL on an engageRE/LeadStreet website.
All that said, consumer attitudes as it relates to privacy is an important component of our solution. Should the need for SSL become a key factor in influencing consumer behavior, this will certainly be revisited.