As stories about the latest security breach, virus, or hacking are becoming far too frequent, online security is at the top of mind of many business owners. Search engine heavyweight Google is among those who take online security seriously. In 2014, Google made an “HTTPS everywhere” declaration at its I/O conference intended to encourage the use of and reward websites with the HTTPS designation. This reward system persists today and continues to grow more important.
What is HTTPS?
In a nutshell, HTTPS is a communications protocol for secure communication and web browsing. Often used on websites with highly sensitive information such as financial institutions, ecommerce sites, and social networks, HTTPS has become a main method of helping ensure secure browsing.
This infographic depicts the behind-the-scenes workings of how HTTPS protects users by invoking an SSL certificate issued by a trusted source along with an encryption key:
Here’s an example of how HTTPS appears on our agency’s own site in the URL:
The Benefits of HTTPS
Outside of keeping visitors secure and their information safe, there is no intrinsic SEO benefit to websites using HTTPS. But since Google has announced that it will use HTTPS as a ranking signal in search, websites that use HTTPS are likely to get a positive bump in search engine results pages over sites that use the unsecure version, HTTP.
Google first stated that HTTPS websites will only see a small impact on rankings. Over time, Google has given HTTPS more weight. This aligns with their “HTTPS Everywhere” declaration.
Is this a good thing for website owners? Yes. It provides an opportunity for improved ranking on search results pages. Furthermore, it will allow visitors to browse and interact on websites with increased confidence, which will lead to an increase in business.
How to Get it
The big question: is it easy to switch from HTTP to HTTPS? Here are methods for making the conversion:
- If your site is hosted with an agency, then they may have you covered. Check with them to understand their process in activating the SSL.
If you host your site using a third party, you can convert to HTTPS by:
- Obtaining an SSL certificate. Most hosting providers offer this for free, but there are varying ranges of certificates depending on your needs. Comodo provides a great Beginners Guide to understanding the different types of SSL certificates available. Then:
- If you use WordPress as your content management system, you can install a trusted plugin like “Wordpress HTTPS,” then follow the configuration instructions.
- If you are not using WordPress, manual installation of the SSL certificate is required, and is different for all servers. GoDaddy has nice support addressing installation on many servers.
However you convert, the cost for the SSL certificate is a small price to pay to increase ad rank and help keep your site and visitors secure. Established as an influence in Google’s ranking, the sooner websites make the switch the more beneficial it will be for all involved.