Advantages of HTTPS: Why You Need to Update Your Website
So you might be wondering what HTTPS is and the advantages, well, for quite some time – since August of 2014 to be specific – Google has ranked HTTPS websites slightly higher in search results which is why it’s extremely important as the advantages of HTTPS are endless. This is because HTTPS is a secure process, also known as, Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, which is used to verify encrypted data between trusted websites and servers, preventing hackers from viewing your website’s proprietary information.
What Is HTTPS and How Is It Different?
HTTPS, as we’ve already mentioned, stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. HTTP, which is the conventional term, simply stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. The two sound very similar, yet have striking differences that warrant Google’s emphasis on the more secure variant.
HTTPS appears in the URL when a website is fully configured and secured via an SSL certificate. Now you’re probably wondering, what is an SSL certificate? We can write a new blog post on this topic, so we’ll keep it brief so you’re familiar with the process from a higher level.
So, to determine if the website you’re currently on has an SSL certificate properly configured, you’ll see https:// at the start of the website address (with an “s”) rather than the standard http:// when you’re viewing the site.
In order to activate HTTPS on your website, an SSL certificate must be installed on your website’s server. The SSL certificate serves two vital functions:
- It fully authenticates the identity of the website, protecting your visitors from being redirected to fraudulent sites linked to malware/viruses.
- It securely transmits your website’s data via encryption processes, ensuring your customer’s sensitive info is safe from unauthorized connections.
Google Chrome will display an “unsecured” or “potentially harmful” warning for sites that have not completed the HTTPS migration process. Trust us when we say, you don’t want this to happen.
Here’s a screenshot of a website that does not have HTTPS configured on its website.
If you check out of our website (yes, the site you’re on right now) with HTTPS properly configured, you’ll see we have the secure lock displaying on Google Chrome.
For now, the important thing to note is that Google clearly places the spotlight on secure websites using the HTTPS protocol, giving them preference over standard HTTP sites.
In fact, Google stands behind HTTPS and wholeheartedly believes that it helps protect the integrity of any site that has it deployed. It obviously makes sense; the added protection ensures that the website data has not been altered or tampered with. It also guarantees that data being sent or received is originating from a trusted source.
A common question we receive: Is it possible to make the switch to HTTPS for WordPress websites?
Absolutely! You can configure almost every WordPress website based on the HTTPS protocol, you can also set up HTTPS for Drupal websites too. We highly recommend configuring your site during the initial website launch as it’ll streamline the process, and likely prevent WordPress and Drupal bugs.
We also suggest improving your website speed after you implement your SSL certification as it’ll solidify your overall website structure.
Advantages of HTTPS
It’s clear that Google places an emphasis on HTTPS-based websites, but what are the advantages? What will a switch to HTTPS do for your website?
When Google initially rolled out the rankings boost, it only affected a small percent of the global search queries. This meant that it held a lot less weight in search rankings compared to some of the other SEO factors.
In recent times, a lot has changed, based on a comment from an employee at Google, they have since strengthened it so that it acts as a tie-breaker between two competing sites in the search results. Yes, that means you could potentially rank lower than your competitors if they use HTTPS and you don’t, so please, place it on your to-do list.
As for the SEO benefits of HTTPS, well, those are straightforward.
- The obvious benefit is that your site will see an increase in organic rankings across the board. This is because Google prefers to direct visitors to trusted websites with HTTPS configured, which means you could lose traffic to a site that’s more secure than yours.
- Second, the referrer data when passing through HTTPS is always preserved. With conventional HTTP, this information is generally stripped away so it’s more difficult to track where your visitors are coming from.
- Finally, HTTPS offers better security and privacy for your customer base, especially when they are sharing sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and addresses. With website technologies advancing, data breaches are being increasingly common nowadays, any additional layer of security is always recommended. The last thing you or your organization needs is to lose customers because you were unable to fully secure sensitive data for not following security best practices.
Ultimately, deploying HTTPS will allow you to stay on good terms with Google, but it will also establish transparency and trust with your customers. Trust is remarkably important when it comes to transactions and credit card payment systems. Many customers may not know the technical specifics, but they know enough to understand that HTTPS is more secure.
Plus, a slight boost in search engine rankings on Google won’t hurt either, especially if you can get the edge over your competitors.
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