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New SSL Warning from Google Webmaster Tools

We’re seeing a number of emails coming in from Google Webmaster Tools users explaining that there’s an issue with their SSL certificate.

The subject line reads like this: [Webmaster Tools] Site host name, https://www.yourdomain.com, does not match your SSL certificate Subject Name

ssl-error
Sample Email from Webmaster Tools

It looks like what’s happening, is Google is trying to crawl the site over https, and when it isn’t able to do so, it generates this error message. For example, if you were to try and visit one of these sites over https in the Chrome web browser, you’d get a warning similar to this one.

new-security-warning

Up to this point we’ve only seen the issue reported by sites hosted on WP Engine.

Now the question is, is this SSL warning something that you need to worry about or fix as a website owner?

Right now there’s really nothing to worry about unless you actually want people using your site with https, which would include things like having a shopping cart on your site, or a membership portal where information you want to keep private is saved or exchanged. For the majority of website owners, this isn’t anything that needs any immediate attention.

It could, however, be an indication of changes that are coming down the pipeline. The fact that Google is paying this much attention to the https protocol could mean that they eventually end up requiring, or rewarding websites that are using the https protocol properly, and let users choose whether they browse over a secure connection or not.

Yoast recently converted his site to use SSL throughout the site, so all visitors will browse the site securely, so it’s definitely a trend that will continue to become more popular as security and privacy become bigger concerns on the web.

We’ll continue to update this post as we gather more details.

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3 Comments

  1. Brian Christner

    If people are using self signed certificates you will get this error as well in Chrome. People need to upgrade to CA Certificates.

  2. Robert Neu

    I think it’s pretty likely that in the future Google will start rewarding people who make the move to SSL. Matt Cutts hinted at it in an interview a while back and a lot of the thought-leaders in the SEO space are starting to move sites over to being fully-SSL.

    Right now, I personally think the drawbacks outweigh the benefits of going full-SSL, but once things like SPDY get wider adoption it seems like a smart move. If you do decide to move over, definetely pay close attention to warnings like this and make sure you get your non-https traffic 301 redirected properly. I’ve personally seen a switch over from http to https significantly hurt organic traffic when done improperly.

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