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What is HTTPS and how will it help my SEO?

You may have read recent discussions online about why you need a ‘secure’ website and the pros and cons of HTTP vs HTTPS. Perhaps you’re now wondering how to make your site secure.

In this post we explain HTTPS, how to make the switch and how it can benefit your SEO, boost conversion rates and build trust in your brand.

What does HTTP mean?

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and is a structure for transferring and receiving information on the web. When you visit an HTTP website, the connection between you and the website you’re visiting is unencrypted, meaning it could be intercepted by eavesdroppers looking to tamper with or steal your data.

How can I tell if  a website is HTTP?

If you visit an HTTP site in Chrome, you’ll see a clickable warning about the site not being secure in the address bar:

When you start to enter personal information such as your credit card number, password or name and address on an HTTP site, Google will show this ‘not secure’ warning:

Eventually, Google is planning to show the following red ‘not secure’ warning for all HTTP pages, irrespective of whether your website contains any password or credit card input fields:

If you want to build trust and encourage users to interact with your site, it is essential that you encrypt any data they submit. Doing this will remove the warning messages and provide reassurance to users that they can browse your site with confidence.   

How do I make my website secure?

You can make the data transfer process on your site secure by switching to HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). This ensures that all data entered onto your site is encrypted and no third parties can view that information.

INSTALL A SECURE SOCKETS LAYER CERTIFICATE TO PROTECT USER DATA

HTTPS security can be achieved by installing an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate on your website’s server. This is a digital certificate that authenticates the identity of a website and encrypts information sent to the server using SSL technology. The browser checks the certificate of the site and verifies its legitimacy with the company that issued it. You can identify a secure site by the green padlock icon to the left of the address bar.

In addition to the obvious security benefits provided by HTTPS, there are a number of other advantages of switching to a secure system.

The benefits of HTTPS

1. HTTPS WILL ENHANCE YOUR SEO

Google highly recommends switching to the HTTPS protocol and has issued many updates over the past few years to encourage website owners to make the change. In 2014 Google first announced that it was making HTTPS a ranking signal. Since then its importance for SEO has grown significantly.

In 2017 Moz identified that half of page-1 Google results are now HTTPS.

(April 2016 - April 2017)

In November of last year, SEMrush published a ranking factors report which identified that the HTTPS adoption rate is very high in the high-volume keyword group. That is, the more popular the keywords are, the more possible it is that the top positions will be occupied by HTTPS domains. Having an HTTPS version of your site is therefore extremely important if you want to compete for high-volume keywords.

2. HTTPS WILL REDUCE YOUR BOUNCE RATE

Customers will be reluctant to proceed to your site as soon as they discover it is not on the HTTPS protocol. This will increase your bounce rate (the number of people who leave your site after viewing only one page) and harm your SEO. It will also reduce traffic to your site and negatively impact your conversions and sales.   

3. HTTPS WILL INCREASE CUSTOMER CONFIDENCE

HTTPS provides users with the reassurance that your site is a safe environment for them to complete an online transaction. It shows that you care about protecting their data, which in turn will help your SEO since Google is working towards making the internet safer more broadly.

4. HTTPS WILL MAKE GOOGLE ANALYTICS MORE EFFECTIVE

Referral data in Analytics shows the originating website a user was on before they clicked through to your website. It is a useful way to to identify where your direct traffic is coming from and is key to measuring link building success. However if the referring website uses secure HTTPS, it will not send referral data to non-secure websites which use HTTP.  Those referral sources will just appear as 'direct traffic' in your Analytics report.

In conclusion

There are many reasons why you should switch to HTTPS. Even if your site doesn’t have forms or collect user information, HTTPS will keep the URLs and contents of all pages confidential. Given the increased importance Google is attaching to SSL sites, switching over will greatly benefit your SEO. In addition, HTTPS will keep traffic on your site, build trust and help drive more conversions.

Updating your site to HTTPS is quick and easy. Contact us today for more information.

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