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HTTPS & Site Security: Why It Should Matter to You

Google’s crusade to ensure a secure online browsing environment evolved in big ways in 2017. Learn the ins-and-outs of HTTPS and why the increased security it offers is important to the long-term success of your online business.

From organic ranking boosts to the HTTPS Everywhere initiative, it’s no secret that Google is doing everything it can to encourage the worldwide adoption of HTTPS.

Of course, ensuring that your website is secure can help to build an extra layer of trust between you and your customers. But what if we told you that introducing that level of security would also have a direct impact on the overall success of your business online?

What is HTTPS?

The majority of websites online today utilize a protocol known as Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to transmit information between a browser and website’s server.

Ie. http://www.example.com

HTTPS – with an “s” at the end – is the secure version of this, in which any data sent between the browser & server is protected via encryption. This means sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, and login credentials will be transferred to the server without any fear of compromise.

Ie. https://www.example.com

Consider it like this: every time you submit information on a non-secure (HTTP) site it’s like mailing a letter without an envelope. Once that letter is delivered to post, its contents can be read by any person who decides to rummage their way through the mailbox the letter has been deposited to.

Submitting information on a secure (HTTPS) site, however, is like sealing that letter in an envelope; only the intended recipient will be able to read its contents.

Google’s Chrome Update: Not Secure Warning

Protection of customer’s sensitive information is not the only benefit of HTTPS.

On October 17th, 2017, in an effort to gain a wider adoption of the secure protocol, Google released an update for Chrome, in which the browser began marking non-secure pages containing a user submission form with a “Not Secure” warning.

Google Chrome Not Secure Warning

Furthermore, this warning will appear on any page when the user is browsing in Chrome’s incognito mode, regardless if a form is present or not.

Not Secure Warning Google Chrome Incognito

At this point, you may be asking yourself “why should I worry about this if it only affects people using Google Chrome?

As of November 2017, Google Chrome holds a 58% market share worldwide. Combine that fact with information from a recent study by HubSpot, which identified that 8 out of 10 users say they will exit a site upon seeing a “Not Secure” warning and we start to get a good picture of the overall impact this warning can have on your website’s – and business’ – success.

The only way to remove it is by migrating to HTTPS.

Organic Ranking Implications

The need for HTTPS is even stronger when you consider that it provides websites with a ranking boost in Google Search.

Though some sources cite HTTPS as only providing a “small” boost in rankings, at Snaptech we’ve noticed that our most recent migrations have resulted in a 20% to 100% increase in organic visibility for our client’s sites.

Client Increase in Organic Visibility
This client received an 80% increase in organic visibility 6 weeks after HTTPS implementation

 

Client HTTPS Organic Visibility
Another client also received a large ranking boost, with a 90% increase in visibility 6 weeks after implementation

 

Of course, this is only the beginning. Google is making a strong push to ensure that all sites are delivered on a secure protocol; so much so that there are rumors that the search engine plans to eliminate non-secure (HTTP) websites from its search results altogether.

How to Identify if My Site is Non-Secure?

The process of identification is simple: if your website domain begins with “http” your site is not secure.

If you find that your site is in fact non-secure, you will want to consider undergoing an HTTPS Migration. Doing so will ensure that your site aligns with modern web best practices, while also earning the confidence of your customers & gaining a ranking boost in Google’s organic search.

How to Migrate to HTTPS

Though many webmasters believe that an HTTPS migration is as simple as implementing an SSL (secure socket layer) Certificate into the backend of a site, a proper set up involves much more than this.

Google treats the HTTPS version of your site as a property separate from your original non-secure site. With this in mind, it is important that every migration include a component of communication to Google so that the search engine understands that the change for upgraded security has been intentionally made.

Without this step, you risk “confusing” the Googlebot (believe it or not, it’s not perfect), which could lead to a number of issues that would be detrimental to your site’s organic rankings; duplicate content penalties, 404 errors and more. These issues are to be avoided at all cost & could take many months – even years – to recover from.

At Snaptech, we’ve helped dozens of companies undergo the HTTPS migration process. We have many years of experience in advanced SEO techniques and have helped to grow client’s business by ensuring maximum search engine visibility.

It’s time to secure your site, protect your users, and improve your business’ visibility online. Contact us today to get started!