Securing your website with https

 In General, SEO, Useful Tips

The internet is rife with hundreds, if not thousands of articles on the subject. It’s also a subject that is overlooked and that, I think, more people should be made aware of, if they aren’t already.

Let’s face it: safeguarding your info online is a necessity these days. Hackers are around every corner trying to get their hands on your info and as such, it’s important to make sure the info you submit online (regardless of whether you’re filling out an enquiry form or buying something online) is safe, secure and encrypted.

Image from https://www.instantssl.com

Now, if you’re a website owner, you also need to ensure that your website protects the data users submit on your website.

In this article we’ll give you the pros and cons of going https.

What is HTTPS?

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (or HTTPS, for short) is a secure form of communication between your browser and the website you’re connected to. This invisible layer of security protects and encrypts the data you submit online, and it’s widely used for online banking, e-commerce and such.

This form of security is beneficial to both user and website owner because:

  1. it’s encrypted, meaning nothing or no one can listen in or hijack the info you send and receive,
  2. the integrity of the data being sent and received is kept intact and cannot be decrypted and it cannot be corrupted while being sent online, and
  3. the data transfer is digital signed as being authentic, so there’s no chance of any sort of mistrust that can occur.

As a result, your server’s connection will utilize https which shows users (and tells your browser) that the connection is safe and secure.

The pros of using HTTPS?

If you search Google for this exact phrase, you’ll get page upon page of results that give you reason upon reason why you SHOULD enable https on your website. Here are a few reasons why using HTTPS is preferred:

  1. By default, information that’s submitted over the internet is sent as unencrypted text. This can easily be picked up by anyone with malicious intent. This is bad, especially if you gather sensitive user data like credit card info etc. Using HTTPS safeguards and encrypts that data before its sent flying across cyberspace.
  2. HTTPS is a great way to solidify the legitimacy of your website and that you own it.
  3. With HTTPS, users are more likely to trust websites that use HTTPS than ones that don’t.
  4. Users can also spot if you’re using HTTPS or not:

1. Google uses https, as seen by the green padlock icon.

 

2. An example of a website that doesn’t use https.

The cons of using HTTPS?

As with everything in life, there’s a downside to the upside of HTTPS. There are three issues associated with migrating to HTTPS:

  1. It takes time to migrate to HTTPS. Migrating large, well established sites from HTTP to HTTPS can take up a substantial number of man-hours. For small business owners, this might not seem like something you’d want to invest in.
  2. Aside from the above-mentioned man-hours it’ll take to migrate over, you’ll have to buy an SSL certificate, which will enable you to use HTTPS. The cost of this can vary greatly from provider to provider, and although this is a yearly in most cases, the costs can range drastically.
  3. Making changes to your website’s structure has serious consequences for your site’s SEO. Migrating to HTTPS can be considered as such a change in structure and, if done incorrectly, it can cause serious shifts in search engine rankings and referrals, which COULD be catastrophic.

Why should you worry about HTTPS?

Google has been pushing for webmasters and website owners to adopt HTTPS as part of their own drive to make the internet a safer place. So much so that they’ve started using HTTPS as a ranking signal in their search engine algorithm.

Now, research has shown that the initial adoption rate for HTTPS was quite low (https://moz.com/blog/https-tops-30-how-google-is-winning-the-long-war). By June 2016, a third of the results on page one of a Google search was using HTTPS (https://www.searchenginejournal.com/moving-to-https/195731/).

It should also be said that a study conducted by Ahrefs (https://ahrefs.com/blog/ssl/) found that  a huge amount of websites were NOT using HTTPS, and those who were, had reported errors in their setup.

So, with that said, it COULD be possible that by adopting HTTPS as early as tomorrow, you COULD theoretically see yourself surge ahead of the competition, for quite some time.

But, the big question is then this:

Should You Adopt HTTPS?

From the research we’ve done and from what we’ve seen, our own opinion is that you SHOULD adopt HTTPS for your website as soon as you can.

It gives you and your clients peace-of-mind, it creates a level of trust with users who visit your website, and there are a few added benefits of giving your business more authority whilst also shooting ahead of the competition in terms of your Google rankings.

Like with everything, there are drawbacks and if you take the time to set everything up the right way, then you should be more than fine.

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