In an effort to get all websites to increase their security, Google has implemented an “HTTPS Everywhere” campaign, encouraging all websites to transfer from unsecure HTTP to the encrypted HTTPS. In order to encourage people to adopt HTTPS, Google has made it a ranking criteria, meaning your SEO will be ranked lower than HTTPS sites if your site is HTTP.
The security of HTTPS comes from having an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certification. This type of encryption provides a secure transfer of data between the browser you’re using and the web server. If this transfer is not encrypted, the data is exposed for potential hackers to access. Google is using its unique influence on all things internet in order to encourage better security practices.
How SSL Keeps Users Safe
There are three ways that Google says using HTTPS will keep users safer: encryption, data integrity and authentication. Encryption, as already mentioned, disguises user data so that it remains safe from hackers during transfer. Data integrity refers to the ability to keep user data accurate, as in hackers can’t manipulate the data entered by users. Authentication ensures that users are directed to the correct site, rather than a fake copy of the intended site.
From a user perspective, this means that if a site is labeled HTTPS, you know that you are on a secure and reliable site and that any information you enter on the site will remain safe because it will be encrypted and won’t be able to be manipulated or stolen.
From a website owner perspective, the HTTPS protocol is about customer experience. Secure encryption gives your customers peace of mind. Cyber security is a big issue now and many consumers are wary of entering personal information online. HTTPS gives them a sense of security so they know they can trust your website and the secure connection it provides. If your customers think that their data could be compromised, they probably won’t enter any information or order anything from your website.
SSL Is No Longer A Business Luxury
In order to motivate people to update their website to be in line with HTTPS protocol, Google is using their search algorithm. HTTPS is now being used as a ranking signal which means that using it needs to be part of SEO strategy. If you use HTTP you will appear lower in the search ranking than competitors using HTTPS.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you switch your site from HTTP to the secure HTTPS. For SEO purposes, making this switch is like when you switch a site’s URL. You have to follow the same careful procedures to minimise the chances of losing ranking. If you are already being penalised by Google for a prior SEO issue, make sure to fix that issue and wait until the penalty is removed before migrating or Google might think you are trying to avoid the penalty.
You also will want to choose an accredited provider to get your SSL certification from. This migration to HTTPS will cost a bit of money, but it is where trends are headed so you will have to do it eventually. If you make sure your site is secure now, it will save you headaches down the line. The last thing you want is to lose customers because of potential, or actual, data breaches!