Does your website use HTTPS?
The implementation of the GPDR a few months ago meant big changes for a lot of firms, but it wasn’t the only big deadline looming this summer. With so much at stake as far as EU data regulations, a lot of firms seem to have missed out on Google’s HTTPS deadline.
Beginning in July 2018, Google started warning users that the site they were visiting did not have an HTTPS certificate, out of a desire to create a secure web and make HTTPS the new default.
Here are some basics about what the HTTPS deadline means for your website.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS and HTTP aren’t just letters that begin a URL, they are two kinds of web protocols. HTTP stands for Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol, and HTTPS stands for Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol Secure.
HTTPS is more trusted because these pages use a secure protocol, usually known as SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which encrypts the information sent between the user and the webpage. This makes it much harder for hackers and other cyber-fraudsters to access the confidential information being transmitted—information like personal data and credit card numbers.
Until last month, web-savvy shoppers knew to look for the S in HTTPS, and to look for the small lock icon in their search bar which indicated that the connection was more secure. Web giants and online financial services have been using for a long time HTTPS, so you would see this protocol when you accessed sites like your bank, Amazon, PayPal, or eBay.
However, Google has just changed things in a big way for smaller firms.
Why this matters to your business
In the online marketplace, little details can make a huge difference. We’ve talked before about how seemingly minor elements of landing page design can make the difference between visitors staying on your page of leaving to browse and shop elsewhere. The internet is the largest marketplace in history, so the smallest things matter.
Now imagine for a moment that the first thing a visitor sees when they land on your page is a big warning in red type advising them that your website isn’t secure. That’s the last thing a prospect wants to see, especially when their money is involved. This is what’s at stake for those websites still using an HTTP protocol after Google implemented its changes last month.
Chrome, Google’s official browser, is now used by more than half of web users, and Google has confirmed in the past that HTTPS is a ranking factor. Google has been pushing sites to implement HTTPS, and the recent deadline has represented another major initiative.
What you need to succeed going forward
Even if Google wasn’t pushing as hard as it is for websites to implement HTTPS, it would still be a good idea for any small- or medium-sized firms doing business online. The simple fact is that a secure protocol is safer for you and your customers, which is the foundation of a good online business.
If your business is a late-adopter to the HTTPS protocol, the good news is that it’s not prohibitively difficult. Here are the steps you need to follow:
- Get a dedicated IP address: only businesses are eligible to obtain dedicated IP addresses, and it’s the first step to getting your site HTTPS-ready.
- Obtain your SSL certificate: the SSL certificate is what makes HTTPS secure, and in order to get one, first you must purchase it. Once you’ve purchased your SSL certificate, you verify that you control the domain name, thus demonstrating the security of your site. Finally, you install the certificate.
- Enable HTTPS: update your links to HTTPS and verify your site’s compliance with major search engines, and then your site will be ready for tomorrow’s HTTPS-only web.
Monitor your traffic after the implementation and you should see an increase in visitors. Your SSL certificate should improve your Google ranking, and then there’s the not-insignificant fact that Google won’t be steering visitors away from your site anymore.
Making the change
If you need to make the shift to HTTPS, there’s no better time. Many sites that haven’t made the move to HTTPS yet do so both because of the cost and the effort associated with getting an SSL certificate.
But Google’s July 24th deadline has made the costs of obtaining an SSL certificate pale in comparison with the cost of remaining HTTP. Today, there’s too much competition in the world of online sales to handicap your website with a major Google warning.