A secure website uses “HTTPS” in the URL, or website address, to display the site versus an insecure site which uses “HTTP” in the URL. If your site URL uses HTTP, it may be time to move to a secure site, especially if your site collects sensitive information or is used for e-commerce.
What is HTTPS?
HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the protocol the internet uses to transfer data to devices. So, when you enter data on a website such as on a form, it transfers the data to the server and sends a response to you and the contact person at the website. When HTTP transfers the data, it does not offer any protection or encryption for the information. So, any data sent through HTTP is “naked”. Potentially, a hacker could steal any of this information as it is transferred. HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) was created to protect that data. With HTTPS your data is encrypted during the transfer process. Stealing that information is almost impossible.
For HTTPS, you also need an SSL
To be able to show the HTTPS protocol on your site, your site must have a SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate installed. Often, your site will also need to have a unique IP address as well. Purchasing and installing the SSL certificate and unique IP address is a service your web host offers. They can help you determine which level of SSL your site needs. An e-commerce or financial services site will need a higher level of certificate than a site that only collects basic information from its users.
Having an SSL can improve your site rankings
Google announced in 2014 that it would consider using SSL as a ranking signal. Sites using SSL get a boost in search engine traffic. As organic search becomes more competitive, the benefits of having an SSL on search results are worth considering. Google currently displays over 50% HTTPS sites at the top of the organic search results. The top websites in traffic now are at about a 50% adoption of HTTPS.
Now, when visitors come to an HTTP site using Chrome or Firefox, they will see a warning about the data being insecure or an open lock image. In the future, there are plans to change this icon in the address bar to a red triangle that warns visitors about your site being insecure.
The downsides to HTTPS
Having HTTPS on your website can cause it to load more slowly. This is because of the increased number of calls for data to the server because of the SSL. Adding an SSL to your site is a multi-step process that can take some time and cooperation to complete. Once the SSL is added, changes need to be made to the link structure of your site to make sure that no traffic is lost to broken links.
As always, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Making the move to HTTPS is something you should consider for your website in 2017. We’re making the transition on thecyphersagency.com soon and we want to see HTTPS in our URL. Contact us if you’d like more information about going secure.