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HTTPS, the secure web protocol that is commonly used by top ecommerce websites to ensure its users have secure transactions, is becoming more and more popular today and it’s easy to see why.
Google has campaigned actively to owners of websites to convert their sites to HTTPs and has started to reward URLs that are secure with a slight boost to their SEO. This makes it worth their while for site owners and developers alike to adopt HTTPS protocol.
Google is keen to ensure that users have a beneficial and secure web experience. Therefore, it makes sense to encourage site owners to make the move to HTTPS. Yet it may not be beneficial for every website owner, so it is something that requires in-depth research and action so a clean conversion can be made.
HTTPS confers with Google’s metrics, however primarily it provides businesses and users with extra security when undertaking confidential transactions online. It’s important, therefore, to know the difference between HTTPS and HTTP and whether or not it’s worthwhile converting your site to this secure protocol.
HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol is an application later protocol which has been designed for the receipt and transference of information online. The application transfer protocol is representative of how information will be displayed to users. It doesn’t discriminate in the way that information is moved between sources. Most commonly, HTTP is used for retrieving HTML text along with other website resources.
Considered to be “stateless”, HTTP doesn’t store or retrieve information from older browsing sessions. Using HTTP offers the benefit of a faster load time as well as an improved information display. Sites that don’t host any confidential user or financial details use HTTP but it isn’t secure and therefore, sites will always have some risk of being hacked by a third party.
Sites started to switch over to the HTTPS client to carry out secure authorisations and transactions with user. HTTPS is similar to HTTP however it has an extra level of security. This is because HTTP has inbuilt SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) which monitors and transfers data between two points safely. This is why HTTPS clients are preferred by search engines. It’s most often used by ecommerce sites and banks as well as other sites conducting personal and financial transactions.
SSL isn’t the same thing as HTTP however both protocols work together. SSL encrypts the data that is transferred between the two parties while providing authentication for the users and ensuring there is no corruption or alteration of the data during its transmission, SSL monitors data transmission to prevent data breaches.
As long ago as 2014, it was announced by Google that sites that were equipped with HTTPs would get a small boost in the search engine rankings over sites that were only equipped with HTTP. In real terms, the benefit is very small.
Also, users receive an in-form security warning at the foot of form fields on sites that continue to run on a HTTP client. Not Secure warnings have also been received by Chrome users since 2017 for sites that run on HTTP and which ask for credit card or login details. This means that users are less likely to use such sites for fear of their data security.
Traffic that passes through an HTTPS server will be preserved as a secure referral source. When utilising analytics software, traditionally traffic that passes via an HTTP server appeared only as direct traffic.
The new Google mobile index encourages websites to make the switch to HTTPS and this may have a larger impact on search engine rankings than when the algorithm relied on desktop searches alone. To convert a web page to AMP, sites must have SSL and this may have a major impact on organic mobile rankings.
Of course, HTTPS will also ensure that websites are secure and are the right site for the server to talk to. HTTPS encrypts all of the user’s data including their browsing history and financial details while protecting from data breaches.
Even better, HTTP/2 is supported by most browsers, and this offers enhancements over the standard HTTP. With HTTPS enabled, users have a faster browsing speed along with encrypted data.
Financial concerns have led to many sites in the past straying away from getting HTTPS certificates, but the process for activating HTTPS security certificates has recently become simpler and more streamlined.
Enacting faulty HTTPS connections is even worse than failing to have one in the first place since it breaches the trust of the user while still putting websites at risk. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that if you are going to go down the route of switching to HTTPS from HTTP you do your research well in advance to determine whether it would be in line with your business goals and digital marketing strategy.
For websites that conduct no financial transactions and use no login data, avoiding the hassle of potentially setting up an HTTPS connection that is faulty could be a better option for you. If you do need an HTTPS connection though, you need to ensure you’ve adhered to the Google best practices when implementing it.
It’s clear that establishing HTTPS connections is now valued by the Google search engine and it’s also obvious that it adds an additional security layer for both your business and its users. Browsers have now evolved to be able to handle an HTTPS connection at an improved load speed and there are a number of 3rd party sites out there that can help you to establish a strong and reliable HTTPS connection if and when you need one.
In practice, it’s likely that HTTPS is set to be the future for all web clients, so if you can implement it for your business, it’s certainly worthwhile considering it, as in the long run your search engine ranking may be affected.