Over the past year, we have seen large scale data breaches to digital giants, such as Equifax and Orbitz, and recently Facebook, influencing millions of people. Websites are constantly at the risk of a hack attack, and consumer confidence in digital data protection is at an all-time low. Globally, EU is taking steps to change that; the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is going into effect in May, 2018. As a company, Google is also taking security as a top priority and is continuously pushing for HTTPS encryption. In order to motivate companies to adapt, Google previously announced HTTPS as a search ranking signal as well.
So what is HTTPS and why is it so important?
Hypertext Transport Protocol Security
No doubt that while browsing the web, you’ve notice some websites start with HTTP and others start with HTTPS. Well HTTP is just code for Hypertext Transport Protocol. The “S” in HTTPS stands for Security. HTTPS (Hypertext Transport Protocol Security), or secure, sites means that your website includes the SSL 2048-bit key and can protect a site connection through authentication and encryption. When installed on a web server, an SSL certificate activates the sought after “green padlock” and allows for a secure connection from the web server to the visiting browser.
HTTPS secured websites protect your visitors by securing their information in three ways:
Data Integrity: Prevents files from being corrupted as they are transferred to and from.
Encryption: ensures that a visitor’s activity cannot and is not tracked nor can their information stolen.
Authentication: Protects visitors and website against attacks and malware.
Doesn’t all of that sound good? Already, aren’t you more likely to visit an HTTPS website over an HTTP site, everytime? Hang on, I know what you are thinking, “Yes, now that I know all of that it sounds great! But the everyday internet user doesn’t know any of that.” Great point, so why does it matter to them?
Red Light, Green Light.
Take a look at this photo of two real websites, one encrypted with an SSL certificate and the other not. Which one are you likely to visit?
While true the everyday internet user doesn’t know or understand all of the technology behind an SSL certificate they do know the universal language of red versus green. Your everyday visitor doesn’t have the time nor desire to ensure that they are visiting a trusted site. That is why hosting providers make it as black and white as possible. When the visitor sees the green padlock, they are instantly reassured that they are visiting a secured site. Which makes them much more likely to not only stick around and browser your site, but also to submit their information through one of your lead capture devices. If we strip it down to the brass tacks it’s very simple; HTTPS gives them the confidence to come, stay, and submit. And think of it this way, not only is the visitor seeing the extra measures you take to protect their digital information, they are also getting the understanding that you’d take the same measures to protect their money.
Don’t Just Compete, Win!
The internet is infinite. It will never be “full”, meaning everyday a new competitor joins the digital battlefield and it’s up to you, or us, to ensure you are doing everything you can to gain the edge. Luckily, something as simple as encrypting your site with HTTPS gives you a huge advantage.
Back in 2014, Google updated their algorithms to favor of HTTPS websites. At the time, it was a small update within the entire SEO algorithm and HTTPS sites experienced only minor ranking increases. But Google continually hints that it will play a larger part in the future. In 2015, Google stated that their HTTPS ranking boost may serve as a tie breaker if two different search results are equal in everything else. What does this meaning? Well, if your website is equal to your competitor’s in terms of content freshness, speed, title tags, keywords, etc. but your competitor’s website is also HTTPS and yours isn’t, Google will likely rank your competitor ahead of you. And we all know, being guilty of doing it ourselves, the likelihood of choosing the site that ranks higher on the search results page, even if only by one spot.
Currently, only less than 1% of websites are secure (HTTPS), but 40% of Google’s page one organic search results show an HTTPS site! Read that again, less than 1%. Talk about gaining the competitive edge! Google’s has hinted that their goal is to ensure a secure web experience by default, so why not take proactive measures. When Google starts to drop hints, it’s a sure bet we should listen: “As migrating to HTTPS becomes even easier, we’ll continue working towards a web that’s secure by default.” If I told you back in 1980 that Apple stock would top out at $180.10 a share, wouldn’t you make the small investment of $41.50?
It’s Not Just A Gimmick
With the recent Cambridge Analytica – Facebook scandal internet users have become more aware of their online data and security. Not only does HTTPS give you and your visitors the confidence they need to safely browse your website it also helps you gain the advantage over your competitors. With so many other cyber security threats as a factor, it’s not only a smart move but it’s the right move to make, for you and your clients.
It’s time to be proactive and ensure you are doing all you can to secure your firm.
True, currently the impact of not having an SSL certificate on your website isn’t overwhelmingly negative, things certainly appear to be moving in favor of it. Don’t get caught playing catch up. “Get on board”, today!
- FREE SSL Certificate
- Top Notch IT Support
- Protection and Insurance Against Cyber Threats
- Unlimited eMail Accounts and Backups
- Enhanced WordPress Performance and Speed
- Weekly Core File and Plugin Updates
By Kirby Mack, Director of Digital Media
Sources* – BlueCorona.com(Orignal source for infographic), SearchEngineLand.com, GlobalSign.com, NeilPatel.com, Webmasters.GoogleBlog.com, SearchEngineJournal.com