Google announced that they are making changes to how their web browser Chrome would view websites not using the HTTPS protocol. At the time it may not have seemed very important, though if your business values rankings then it’s quite important. As a top web design company, we want to explain how and why to secure your website with the HTTPS protocol to guarantee your business and its reputation is protected.
What exactly is HTTPS?
HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and it is the footing of data communication online. While HTTP is the original version, a much more secure type has been created called Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) which keeps data sent between your browser and the website secure and safe via encryption.
In 2018 Google applied a change in the Chrome browser where any site using the general HTTP that obtains passwords or credit card information were marked as “Not Secure” in the URL bar before the website’s address. By now most everyone has come across that message few times. This change was also implemented in Firefox in 2018.
Why is using HTTPS Important?
There are several reasons why using HTTPS is important:
- SEO – HTTPS is a ranking signal, though presently it is lightly weighted. However, that could change soon. Google is also beginning to index HTTPS pages first. Using HTTPS provides admission to HTTP/2, which can affect your site speed in a positive way. Both site performance and speed are related to user satisfaction and preference which are both ranking signals for Google.
- Security – Using HTTPS keeps delicate data transferring between a browser and website encrypted which helps protect the customers. Anyone using Chrome or Google is Google’s customer and they want to do anything they can to make those customers happy. In this case, adding a caution when security is not present warns their customers about a possible problem.
- Credibility – Security online has always been a concern to consumers and that relates to a business’ credibility. Making use of things like a Norton Secured badge on a website can instil trust with customers. HTTPS does the same as this, while showing “Not Secure” next to your web address does not. Statistics show that people are much more likely to not follow through with a transaction if they even feel their data is at risk due to an unsecure or unsafe connection to the website. That could lead customers to leave your website in favour of a more secure one such as your competition.
- Usability – There are some tools, elements, and embedded code which will not work when navigating between HTTPs and HTTP. This means if your site uses HTTP and it cooperates with another site using HTTPS there could be issues.
How to implement HTTPS
These are the important steps to follow for migrating to HTTPS:
- Gain and install a security certificate on the web server.
- Update all resources and references to prevent mixed content problems. In some cases, scripts and images may be loaded from an insecure HTTP connection even if your page loads over a secure connection (HTTPS). This can make the web page more exposed to hacking.
- Update all redirects on external links or else it can create needless redirects going from old to new and then HTTP to HTTPS. A web crawling software can help as well as Google Search Console.
- Update rule redirects to point to HTTPS as the destination.
- Enable HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) which will force every request for resources to be loaded through HTTPS and protects the system from downgrade attacks.
- Enable Online certificate status protocol (OCSP) which improves upon the certificate revocation list process.
- Add Hypertext transfer protocol 2 (HTTP/2) which is a set of rules for how information travels between browsers and servers. This will provide a performance increase as numerous requests can be processed at the same time which increases loading times.
- Create a new HTTPS profile on Google Search Console so it will reflect your live website. A disavow file might be uploaded to protect the new subdomain.
- Update all default web address references on all accounts. That means on your website, stationary, business cards, apps, social media accounts, and email providers so that users go directly to the site without going through redundant redirects.
This should all be done in a test environment first so that problems or bugs may be resolved.
The bottom line is that security is crucial for any business that is online and wants to obtain information or exchange data from customers. Understanding how and why to secure your site with the HTTPS protocol means that your business takes its customers security very seriously because even if your site doesn’t transfer any information, you are now aware of why sites are doing this and how it might negatively impact rankings, credibility, and indexing if you choose not make use of this additional layer of security.