Despite a multitude of benefits, many SEOs and webmasters have yet to make the switch to HTTPS. For those feeling a little intimidated by the prospect: don’t panic, it’s not as difficult as it sounds.
For those unaware, HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is a communication protocol that protects the integrity and confidentiality of your users’ data between their device and your website. For example, when a user enters data into a form on your site in order to subscribe to updates or purchase a product, HTTPS protects that user’s personal information.
Data sent using HTTPS is secured via a Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS), which provides three key layers of protection:
- Encryption – keeping exchanged data secure from eavesdroppers. That means that whilst the user is browsing, nobody can “listen” to their conversations, track their activities or steal their information.
- Data integrity – protecting data to ensure that it cannot be modified or corrupted during transfer, intentionally or otherwise, without being detected.
- Authentication – clarifying that the user is communicating with the intended source. It protects against man-in-the-middle attacks and builds trust, which translates into other benefits.
There are other benefits to switching, including a sizeable search engine ranking boost from Google, which very few sensible SEOs would turn down.
Switching over to HTTPS also helps with the loss of referral data that can happen when the referral value in the header is dropped when switching from a secure website to an unsecured website.
It really shouldn’t come as that much of a shock to anybody that Google really wants the web to be more secure. Yet despite a mammoth international push for the protocol, the fact remains that less than 0.1% of websites are truly secure.
Simply put, HTTPS is not going to go away anytime soon. HTTP/2, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages initiative and QUIC protocol all require secure connections. The protocol is being pushed hard by the powers that be, and the time has come to make the switch.
Users expect a secure online experience when giving up their data, and we would absolutely encourage you to adopt HTTPS without haste.
We’ll leave you with a tweet from Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes, who sums up the need to move to HTTPS ASAP with aplomb:
If you're an SEO and you're recommending against going HTTPS, you're wrong and you should feel bad.
— Gary Illyes (@methode) August 18, 2015