Is your website ready for https?

I try not to get too geeky on my website. After all, I see my job as translating developer and tech “talk” into English. Sometimes I even translate back if I’m in the mood.

But, sometimes rules are made to be broken. At least this time. 

So today we are going to be talking about that part in your domain that you very rarely even type anymore: http to https.

Firstly a little history

Ah yes, the early days of the internet. Before everyone told us their opinion on social media. Http, or hypertext transfer protocol (as I ALWAYS refer to it as) is what we call a protocol, you can find out more here (seriously, don’t click on this link or read the page, it will put you to sleep).

But basically, http refers to the way data is transferred between your computer and the server where the website is hosted (or stored). It’s been around since 1990 and has helped get everyone “online” since then.

Unfortunately http is an unencrypted protocol, which is important when comparing it to https, which is an encrypted protocol.

Encryption wasn’t something widely used in the early days of the internet. Bad guys were few and far between, and ecommerce wasn’t as popular as it is today.

As the popularity of ecommerce, and thus entering your credit card details to pay for these purchases rose, the bad guys took notice.

Unencrypted data being sent between a computer and a server was a swell time to commit some daylight robbery. They would intercept the details on the way through, and bam. They now have your credit card details.

So does https fix that?

My word it does. https adds an encrypted security layer over the top, so your details are encrypted and safe while jumping around the internet. This means that if you enter details onto a contact form, when it sends it through to the business owner, the details are safe. On an ecommerce site, the benefits are obvious: safe and secure payment processing.

So I don't have an ecommerce store, I don't really care.

That’s nice. Neither do I. So why do I care?

Once upon a time there was a little company called Google. They wanted to run the world, and they very soon basically did. They weren’t down with the Internet Explorer browser that everyone was using, so they decided to build their own. They called that browser: Google Chrome. It was fast, secure, and automatically updated. Which is awesome.

It had a slow uptake, but soon many people were using Google Chrome as their “default” browser, and it grew in popularity to become the leading browser around the world. Currently it is used  by almost 60% of the worlds internet users. So it’s safe to say, when Google Chrome has an update everyone gets the update due to their awesome automatic update feature.

Browser Market Share Worldwide | StatCounter Global Stats

Google saves the world. Again.

Google, in all their wisdom, decided that while http was a great protocol, but https was better. So they are drawing a line in the sand. 

They have recently announced that with version 68 of their Google Chrome browser, they will start to let people know if a website is not https compliant. So what does this look like? Well it will look like this:

Not as in your face as many had feared, but there are other reasons to convert your site to https. Eventually, the URL bar in Chrome will look like this:

Okay. That’s less gooderer. Especially in light of recent data breaches by Facebook and their mates. So what else does it give me?

A boost in rankings. Sort of.

Google stated back in 2014 that if your site was secure, then they would give you a slight rankings boost. With over 100 ranking signals, it’s debatable on how much ranking juice this gives you, but they have given us a hint. As this rollout continues, it could prove even more important.

Think of all the sites in your industry that will have https enabled over yours. It’s tough enough landing on Google’s first page without making it any harder on your business.

It builds trust with your visitors

Customers are a fickle bunch. Sometimes the slightest hint of danger can trigger their spideysense and make them run away. Removing all doubt from their visit to your website can be a good way to start gaining their trust.

Ok, so how do I upgrade my site to https?

There are quite a few great guides floating around on how to update your site to https. Smashing Magazine have a great one, as do Yoast. If you feel a little bamboozled by a move to https and would prefer some assistance. Drop me a line via my contact form, or phone and I would be glad to answer any questions you have about the transition.

Time to get moving

Upgrading your website to https doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Follow one of the many guides available, or get a professional to do it. Act soon so you can keep your website up to date with your competitors.

Any other questions about https or digital marketing, feel free to drop me a line.

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