If you own a website, you’ve probably heard or seen that most popular websites are gradually moving from HTTP to HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). What you might not know is why.
Secure websites are becoming more important than ever and for good reason. Putting the “S” at the end of HTTP adds an extra level of security to your site.
You can make this addition by using an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser.
The use of HTTPS was often reserved for eCommerce websites and websites that require private user information. This would be data such as credit card details, account numbers, etc. But HTTPS is no longer restricted to those scenarios.
As Google looks to encourage a safe and secure online environment, it’s inevitable that all websites will need to move to HTTPS. They need to do so, not only because Google wants them to but also to show website visitors that the site is safe.
One sign that Google is raising concerns over non-secure sites is the introduction of “Not Secure” warnings on non-HTTPS websites.
These appear when people use the Chrome web browser. For last few months, Google has started sending out emails to website owners explaining the reason for introducing this feature.
This warning can cause a lot of concern for visitors to your site. It makes them feel the data they submit will not be safe.
Have a look at the information that pops up when you head over to any non-secure website. Would you feel safe inputting your personal information on the website after seeing that message?
Benefits of Moving to HTTPS
Moving your website to HTTPS comes with many benefits. The real goal of today’s online environment is to provide an experience where people feel secure when entering their vulnerable information on the internet. Here are some of the biggest advantages of migrating to a HTTPS.
1. It’s a Small Google Ranking Factor
You should welcome with open arms anything that improves your organic rank on Google’s search. Google is very secretive about what impacts your rank on its search engine.
But company leaders do occasionally mention the reasons behind their decisions. Back in 2014, Google confirmed that HTTPS was now a small ranking factor that was likely to increase in strength:
…we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.
With Chrome introducing “Not Secure” warnings on non-HTTPS sites, it’s likely the ranking signal is about to rise, if it hasn’t already. That’s why there is no time to delay. Make the move to a secure site now.
2. Greater Level of Security for Your Website
Moving to a secure site shows your visitors that the security of their information is important to you. This builds trust between your customers and your brand.
A fully validated SSL certificate ensures there is no possibility of a compromised connection between your site and the visitor or between your server and your site.
The SSL adds security measures that make sure your site is protected from hackers trying to gain access to private information.
3. You Can Customise It
One of the features that you can add to your SSL implementation is an Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificate. An EV SSL certificate will show that your website is secure. It will also include the name of your business so you can further gain the trust of your visitors.
An EV SSL requires extra verification of your business’s identity and is also a step up in price compared to your regular SSL certificates.
4. More Detailed Referral Data
Google Analytics blocks detailed referral data from HTTP sites in order to encourage you to make the switch. Instead, any traffic from HTTP sites only shows as “Direct,” rather than showing which site it came from.
Understanding the source and nature of your traffic is vital when analysing the success of your online marketing efforts. This fact alone should encourage you to move to HTTPS.
Before you migrate your website to HTTPS, it’s important to get in contact with your web developer and SEO provider to indicate that you will be making the move.
Your web developer/hosting company will work with you to obtain the SSL, set up the redirects, etc. By keeping in contact with your SEO provider throughout the process, he or she can advise you regarding best practices.
Your provider can also do all the necessary checks once the migration is complete. The sooner you find the issues, the faster you can fix them.
How Do You Make the Move?
If your website has a web hosting developer and an SEO provider, here are the few key steps for making the move.
- After contacting your SEO provider about making the move to HTTPS, he or she should do a full crawl of the website. It’s important to have a copy of the current state before the switch. That way, you can have a basis for comparing changes and noticing issues during and after the switch.
- You must then obtain an SSL certificate. Your web developer will work with you and your hosting provider to obtain the certificate for your site.
- Once you have your SSL certificate organised, you, your SEO account manager, and web developer need to select a date. Try to choose one that is at the beginning of the week because the faster you can resolve any issues, the better. Thursdays and Fridays are not ideal because you are unlikely to resolve problems on the weekend.
- Your web developer will install the SSL on the server and roll out HTTPS pages on the set date.
- Once your web developer has confirmed the migration is complete, it’s time for your SEO account manager to step in. Your account manager will ensure you meet all Google’s best practises, update all necessary details in Analytics, AdWords, etc., and monitor all aspects of the site.
- To help the migration run smoothly, you should update as many links as possible that point to your site to the HTTPS version. This includes links to social media profiles, business listings, and so on.
- Keep monitoring the performance of your site and sorting any issues you encounter. Ensure all redirects stay in place from the HTTP to HTTPS version of your site. It’s not good if you can access both versions of the site at any point in time. Bear in mind that your SSL does expire, so keep it up to date to ensure the security of your site.
If you’re planning on making the move to HTTPS alone, you might want to check out this comprehensive guide that will take you through all the important steps involved.
It’s important to ensure the move from HTTP to HTTPS has worked once you have finished implementing it.
Some website managers have noticed that although they followed all the necessary steps, the secure connection was broken.
This problem could be due to images or advertisements that include code that was HTTP, which has the effect of breaking your secure connection. Keep this in mind if the issue pops up during your move.
Google is getting more serious about the necessity of websites migrating to HTTPS. As the company progresses in making the internet a more secure place, it’s important to make the move now.
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