After Google announced in 2014 that security, i.e. HTTPS, would become a ranking signal, many websites have been penalized and lost their position. But it is not only primarily about the Google ranking itself, it is also about customer trust. Secure websites and secure data handling are becoming increasingly important.
What is HTTPS?
The big difference between HTTP and HTTPS is how your browser communicates with the server. For example, the browser sends data to the server 188.8.131.52 and the server sends content back. In normal HTTP this data traffic is not encrypted and therefore anyone could listen to this connection if they wanted to. Especially if access data, account data or sensitive personal data is exchanged, it is not desirable that another person could listen in. For example, the transmission of access data to a bank account and then the account balance would be listened in both directions if banks did not use SSL.
That is why there are so-called SSL certificates, which encrypt the connection and make the data transfer more secure. To enable HTTPS connections on the website, this SSL certificate is deposited and is checked with the issuer of the certificate. Only if the authenticity is confirmed, the browser gets the data also encrypted, which is then signaled with a “secure” or a lock symbol, as here the example of MoreThanDigital.
The advantage is not only a more secure connection for transferring sensitive data. It also allows to use the new and faster HTTP/2 standard, which makes web pages much more user-friendly, because data is transferred more intelligently.
HTTPS as an advantage for customers
Anonymity and security are some of the most frequently mentioned issues that customers address when it comes to the Internet. According to Let’s Encrypt Stats, 62% of all websites visited by Firefox browsers are already encrypted with HTTPS. Finally, even for websites, it is an important trust issue that data is handled securely, even if it is just the bakery around the corner.
SEO and advantages of HTTPS
As already mentioned at the beginning, Google gives an important signal whether a website is safe or not. So if 2 competitors are both equally good with their website, Google prefers to suggest the one that offers a secure website. This fact, together with the fact that only 62% of the websites use SSL, means that you can gain an easy to implement advantage even there.
Different browsers usually already indicate that a website is unsafe. This should also be avoided.
Switch to HTTPS
A few years ago it was very tedious and also a big process to switch the own website to HTTPS. Nowadays you can make the easy step relatively quickly.
Since the certificate is issued by the server, the hoster must provide it. Providers like Let’s Encrypt are free and you can provide a certificate with a few clicks. When the hosting of the website is ready for HTTPS, you can either integrate the SSL connection on the website yourself, through a programmer or a plugin. There are several possibilities for this integration.
It is also recommended to install the secure HSTS. HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) instructs the browser to load all data over the secure HTTPS when the connection is established and also tells search engines that they will only forward the secure domain https:// and will not try to open the connection over the insecure http:// path first.