After years of talk, soon Google’s Chrome browser will identify non-HTTPS sites as “not secure” and penalize them in their ranking algorithms. Google has been encouraging webmasters to make the change from HTTP to HTTPS and it is finally happening. According to Search Engine Land:
- Over 68% of Chrome traffic on both Android and Windows is now protected
- Over 78% of Chrome traffic on both Chrome OS and Mac is now protected
- 81 of the top 100 sites on the web use HTTPS by default
So, what does that mean for your site and how can you start to make the switch if you haven’t already done so? Here are a few steps to help get you started in making the transition:
- SSL certificate – SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encrypts sensitive data like credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, and social security numbers so hackers can’t see them. To have an HTTPS site, you must have an SSL certificate.
- Obtain an SSL certificate installation. Determine what pages you want with the SSL certification Don’t feel limited to only securing transactional pages.
Making the switch:
- Change your HTTP links to HTTPS and notify Google’s Change of Address Tool.
- Update external links.
- Create a 301 redirect to the HTTPS version of your website to prevent visitors from landing on an HTTP page.
- Ensure no tags are referring to HTTP.
- Update other tools such as email marketing and landing page generators.
- Update your Google Analytics account.
- Remember to test, test, test. Crawl your new pages and make sure nothing broke in the process.
- Let Google know you have made the change by updating your Google Search Console and produce a new sitemap featuring the HTTPS URLs sent to Google.
Making this switch may sound like a daunting task but there are several reasons why you should:
Reasons to convert to an HTTPS secure site:
- Good for search. Having an HTTPS site can offer a leg up, albeit a small leg, on the competition by out-ranking sites with the same relevant content but that is not HTTPS secure.
- Indexing HTTPS pages first. Priority will be given to secure sites.
- Protection for users. Users want to know your site is secure, especially if they are there to book a reservation and provide credit card information.
- AMP ready. When it comes to mobile-first optimization your load speed is critical and AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) technology, which is used to speed up loading of mobile pages, requires HTTPS criteria.
- Mobile-first indexing. Earlier this month we wrote a blog highlighting Google’s move to mobile-first indexing and how mobile sites will be considered first when indexing your pages. As a part of that transition, Google suggests moving your site to a secure site.
- Warning. Browsers are warning visitors about sites that are not encrypted, telling them it is not secure.
- It’s the future. Ultimately the biggest reason is that HTTPS is the future of the web. Plain and simple, this is where the web is headed.
You will need to switch to an HTTPS secure site sooner or later, so it might as well be now. Add this to your overall planned site updates this year, you will be glad you did.