Google’s Switch to Favor HTTPS
Google recently announced that it would be favoring websites that operated on the more secure HTTPS as opposed to the more commonly used HTTP. You may be thinking, they did? And what’s the difference between the two other than an “S”? And do I really need to make the switch? And if so, how do I do it? Well you came to the right place.
HTTP and HTTPS: What’s the difference?
The difference between HTTP and HTTPS actually is pretty simple. HTTPS is more secure. Typically HTTP, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol, is used. The main purpose of HTTP is on how information is provided to the user. HTTP is often known as “stateless” because it focuses entirely on moving information from point A to point B for the user without bothering to remember any information about previous sessions.
The benefit is less data to transmit, or in other words, HTTP is just a courier focusing on delivering a message by any means necessary. The more secure alternative HTTPS, or Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol, is literally just the more secure version of the same system. HTTPS utilizes an SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, which operates the inverse function of HTTP- it focuses on how the information is delivered and lets the HTTPS focus on delivering the message.
So the simple answer is HTTPS offers more security. HTTPS has been around for a while and you’ve almost certainly used it when you made a transaction online- or if you didn’t you probably would have wanted to. HTTPS provides Transport Layer Security, which encrypts the data you are sharing. It also prevents data from being corrupted or modified during a transaction without being detected.
Switching to HTTPS: What’s the benefit?
When you see that little green padlock at the top of the page that means you’re on an HTTPS website. Previously, it had been commonplace to only use HTTPS for websites that held customer data but with the advancement of technology as well as cybercrime, Google is pushing website owners to make the switch for all websites with the motivation of a bump in SEO ranking. So security is not the only reason why you may want to make the switch over to HTTPS because Google will now begin to favor HTTPS websites in ranking over standard HTTP.
However, that ranking boost comes into consideration with everything else that Google analyzes when it is creating a score for a given website. Further, the gain in ranking you will get is “minimal” according Gary Illyes, who wrote the HTTPS ranking boost for Google and talks extensively about the changes in this article by Search Engine Land. In fact, the only way that Google even bothers to identify your website as HTTPS is if the first five letters in your website’s URL are in fact H-T-T-P- S.
If the minor ranking boost you will get from Google doesn’t do anything for you and you are just interested in securing the private information of your customers then keep in mind popular alternative options to switching your entire website over to HTTPS. For example, you could make all your transactions through Paypal which would redirect customers to their secure payment options. The only drawback being it requires your customer to have a Paypal account or to take the time to set up one when they proceed to make a purchase.
Alternate Options to HTTPS
Of course, this minimal boost in ranking is likely just the first step in Google’s push to move users from HTTP to HTTPS. Illyes also noted that they had planned to include much more in this motivated migration but decided to focus on letting users make the switch seamlessly and simply. Google’s algorithm is always evolving over time so likely the pressure to make the switch to more secure HTTPS will only grow stronger.
How to switch from HTTP to HTTPS
Depending on your experience level you may want a professional to handle the transition from HTTP to HTTPS. The process essentially involves purchasing an SSL certificate and installing it on your hosting provider account. You can purchase an SSL certificate either from your hosting provider or directly from an SSL certificate vendor. Then you must change all the website URLs from HTTP to HTTPS. Finally, you should set up redirects so that anyone who has links to your website from their website will automatically be redirected to your new HTTPS URL.
If that seemed too complicated for you don’t worry you aren’t alone. Like always, you can visit our Contact Us page and let us know you need some help moving your website from HTTP to HTTPS- or setting up Paypal transactions or anything else digital marketing related! Of course switching to HTTPS is not a bad option and doing it will make your website more secure, improve your rank with Google and put you ahead of the game as Google proceeds to evolve toward migrating users to HTTPS!