The Vital Importance of HTTPS
Clients often ask us about HTTPS. They want to know what it is, and why they need to have it. In this post, we’ll try and outline the key reasons why having HTTPS enabled on your site is so vital.
HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). It is the protocol over which data is sent between your browser, to the website you are connected to. When a site has an “S” at the end of their HTTP it means that the site is secure. Some browsers put a locked padlock icon next to a URL with HTTPS to show the security of the site. Thus confirming that it can be trusted. This is because all communications between your browser and a site with HTTPS are encrypted. Owing to this, HTTPS is often used to protect confidential online transactions such as online banking and online shopping.
Though it is primarily used for online transactions, Google themselves recommend everybody to protect their website with HTTPS, even if they don’t handle “sensitive communications.”
So why do we encourage our clients to request a HTTPS certificate?
Good for search and SEO. With Google algorithms changing so frequently, it is a long battle to reach the top of their rankings. Imagine this scenario – you’re head to head with another website. You’ve got the same page speed, and the same relevance to the query. But there’s one difference – their website has HTTPS. Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes has previously stated, “If all quality signals are equal for two results, then the one that is on HTTPS would get, or may get… the extra boost that is needed to trump the other result”. You could legitimately be losing out on site hits, and conversions, because of your lack of a secure HTTP. Google are treating HTTPS as a ranking factor for results pages.
Security. According to a report by Case Security in 2015, Only 3% of online shoppers would enter their bank details on a site without the HTTPS secure padlock. This can mean your website will miss out on a huge amount of traffic or conversions. Users will go elsewhere due to the lack of security on your site.
HTTPS also prevents intruders from tampering with the communications between your website and your users’ browsers. Intruders can include intentionally malicious attackers. Preventing your site users from being exploited is a top priority. Every unprotected HTTP request can potentially reveal information about the behaviours and identities of your users. This can lead to a severe lack of trust from your customers, and a poor reputation.
HTTPS is the future. It is now to be understood by the internet community that HTTPS should be the baseline for all web traffic. Web users actively prefer secure connections, so it is thought that the majority of the internet, will transition to HTTPS. Encryption for all sites is being recommended as a default, as people start to value their privacy and online safety more and more online. Both the Chrome and Firefox browsers are working towards marking all none HTTPS sites and “non-secure” and will start to phase out all non-encrypted connections. Having your website marked as non-secure could be massively damaging to your businesses reputation, and really knock you back in terms of search engine ranking.
Mobile. Google have announced recently that they are going to start indexing mobile. This means that Google algorithms will “primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site.” However, in order for a mobile site to be indexable, Google recommend that you migrate to a secure site. Especially if you don’t support HTTTPS yet.
Another key reason for enabling HTTPS to support mobile is the fact that you cannot have an AMP formatted website without a secure connection. AMP stands for accelerated mobile pages and is the technology behind making certain pages load instantaneously on mobile. AMP-formatted websites also appear in the main Google search engine results page as speed and user experience are major ranking factors.
It’s fairly easy to see why we encourage clients, (or anyone!) to enable HTTPS on their site. So; if you want to keep your search engine ranking, don’t want to lose digital revenue, or customer trust and reputation, your site needs to be secure and encrypted.