HTTP vs HTTPS
It may only be one letter different but it makes a world of difference. The little “S” at the end changes the way your website is viewed and presented. From search engines, to browsers, and even users – everyone reacts differently to an HTTPS website vs a traditional HTTP site.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure. Essentially it is the way that your browser communicates with a website. The secure portion means that the connection is encrypted – that no third party can read the information being passed between browser and website. Traditionally, this was only used on websites that were collecting sensitive information (such as e-commerce websites and personal information). As security concerns online increased more and more websites started using encrypted HTTPS. Now HTTPS is considered the norm and all new websites should be considering HTTPS over HTTP.
To get an HTTPS designation you have to purchase what is known as a Secure Socket Layer (SSL). This is the standard for instantly encrypting data that is entered onto a webpage. An SSL certificate also helps verify that the business you are visiting is a genuine business. There are different levels of SSL certificates however they all encrypt the data so that only the web browser and website can read the data.
Check out this video that quickly and easily describes what SSL certificates are and how they work:
What is SSL? from SSL.com on Vimeo.
How Google Treats HTTPS
In an effort to have more websites transition to HTTPS, Google and other major search engines offer rankings boosts to HTTPS websites. According to a study done by Moz in 2015, this boost is minimal, however can often be the deciding factor in ranking one website over another. Google is in favour of creating a safer and more secure internet, and anything they can do to move towards this end goal, they will. Google suggested webmasters move to HTTPS back in 2014 and according to Mozilla approximately 50% of website traffic is encrypted using HTTPS.
How Browsers Treat HTTPS
All modern browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge) display some form of warning when a site is not HTTPS. In addition to a green HTTPS and a lock in the address bar some even go as far as prompting full page warnings about unsecure websites. For a business having every user receive this warning could be very detrimental to traffic, causing many to leave. Also many users have started looking for the green HTTPS and Secure symbols in the browser bar. If they do not see it they are less trusting of the website and more likely to leave the page.
Google Chrome HTTPS Warnings:
When entering data into a field (credit card information, email address, or contact form) the URL will change to display a Not Secure warning. (see below)
Why You Need To Upgrade to HTTPS
Going forward all modern browsers will start notifying users in some form or another if a website is not using HTTPS with a legitimate SSL Certificate. Google is rewarding websites for transitioning to HTTPS. Users are expecting to see Secure on their favourite websites. The longer you put off installing HTTPS the more difficult it can be. Why wait? Do it now! Users are expecting this type of protection, so give it to them.
Encrypting your website will only benefit your business. It will help with both search rankings and with users. If you are starting a new website project I would 100% recommend starting with an HTTPS domain, as it will save some work later down the road when this technology becomes, more or less, mandatory. For businesses with existing websites, transitioning to an HTTPS should be considered. Maybe it does not have to be done right this second but it should definitely be on your radar for the next year or so. Yes SSL’s cost money, but there are some free options out there. A little research or consultation with a web developer such as NetClimber will help you understand your different options.