For most of the year, the web has been buzzing about Google shifting to label sites that don’t use HTTPS as “not secure”.
In a recent round of emails to Google Search Console account holders with HTTP sites, Google confirmed their October deadline, saying, “Starting October 2017, Chrome (Version 62) will show a “NOT SECURE” warning when users enter text in a form on an HTTP page, and for all HTTP pages in Incognito mode.”
If your website has ANY text input forms, such as site search boxes, newsletter subscriptions, login information or credit cards, then you NEED to secure your site.
But advantages aren’t strictly related to security.
Other benefits of HTTPS include:
- Preferred treatment in search engine rankings
- Increased conversion rates
- Potential for faster load times
- Increased viewer trust
However, in October, switching to HTTPS won’t simply be about benefits…
It will be about keeping up with your competition and avoiding a decline in rankings as others make the shift to HTTPS as well.
TopRank Blog sums up the situation well, saying,
“If your content is just as good as a competitor’s, but they have HTTPS and you don’t, they’re likely to rank higher on the results page. … If you’re trying to create SEO-optimized content that gets viewed and gets results, not having HTTPS on your site can hamstring your efforts from the start.”
How HTTPS Works
HTTPS uses a secret key to scramble the data going in and out of your website.
Without a key, figuring out what the data actually contains is next to impossible.
This means your visitors can send credit card numbers, addresses and other sensitive information without worry.
The whole process is seamless for visitors and requires a one-time setup for site owners.
Site owners will need an SSL certificate to verify their identity.
These certificates are obtained from hosting providers or groups known as certificate authorities.
Some hosting providers offer free options while others charge.
Once the certificate is set up, using “HTTPS://” instead of “HTTP://” on any URLs leading to your site will check the certificate and enable encryption.
Visitors will then see a green padlock in their address bar to show the connection is secure.
In the early days of HTTPS, setting this up was complicated…
But today, you can often find a service to complete the changes or use a one-click installer to get up and running (and avoid Google’s red flags) in a matter of hours or days.
Still Not Sure If You Need HTTPS?
At the end of 2016, Mozilla showed that more than 50% of pages loaded in their browser used HTTPS.
If your site isn’t using HTTPS, it’s no longer a matter of not adopting a new feature early–you’re part of the minority of sites not using it.
It’s no longer a fancy feature for the tech-savvy, it’s the cornerstone of a professional web presence.
Consider how often you send bank account information, sensitive messages, images of your family or belongings and other personal information across the Internet?
How often do you check your Facebook account, Twitter feed or email?
If the sites you’re using aren’t encrypted, each of these moments are opportunities for people to steal your information as it travels to its destination.
As data breaches and malware continue to make headlines around the world, the public is becoming more security conscious and aware of what they’re transmitting online.
This impacts who they do business with online as well.
Consider this data from SSL.com:
“… implementing SSL and displaying a secured seal on your site can boost conversion rates by up to 87%. More than 60% of respondents in a 2011 Actual Insights study said they abandoned a cart over lack of security.”
Depending on your hosting provider, you might also see faster load times with HTTPS.
According to Kissmetrics:
- A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
- 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
- 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
And as competition continues to increase online, even a small advantage can make a big difference.
Better still, benefits don’t end at your site, Google has made it clear that they prefer HTTPS. They’ve even confirmed it’s part of their considerations when determining search engine rankings.
HTTPS and SSL as a Core Part of the Future Web
As more devices connect to the Internet and more people turn to the Internet to make buying decisions, find products and services and interact with the world, security will continue to grow in importance.
This means site owners will need to remain ahead of the latest tools and techniques in securing their sites as well.
October 2017 will be a critical time for site owners who haven’t considered security and how it impacts their online presence.
Although switching to HTTPS doesn’t take much time for the average website–and it’s easier than it once was–it’s still a technical process.
Business owners would be wise to contact their site developers or agency partners now and get ahead of the Google Chrome update.
Not only will they avoid the “NOT SECURE” tag completely, but they can be at the front of the rush of HTTPS updates sure to hit as more sites realize how the update impacts their rankings, traffic and sales.