Are you aware that your site might be blocked by Google if you don’t have encryption?

Chances are you’ve clicked on a website and gotten a warning sign “this site is not secure”. You might have also heard about website SSL certificates and HTTPS requirements but are not aware of how it will affect you. In a nutshell,  Google has started telling your website visitors that your site is NOT SECURE if you don’t have an SSL certificate.

According to Google  “Beginning in October 2017, Chrome will show the ‘Not secure’ warning in two additional situations: when users enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode.”

install an ssl certificate

Google first announced the encryption requirement back in 2014,  providing an adjustment period which is coming to an end by mid-2018, when Google releases the next version of Chrome.

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS stands for Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol. In plain English, it creates a secure link between a website and a visitor’s browser.

HTTPS helps protect user privacy. It works together with another protocol, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), to communicate information safely in three ways: to encrypt data for security, prevent data alteration during transmission, and user authentication.

Having an SSL certificate installed on your site not only ensures user data is secure, but it also has other security and privacy benefits, such as authentication of websites and server communication, and avoiding damage by third parties.

What are your options?

Not all SSL Certificates are created equal. There are different kinds that offer different levels of security. If you accept credit cards on your site or have forms that collect information, you will require a higher level of security than if you don’t.

Keep in mind, as internet security is becoming very important, consumers are constantly being educated so they learn to recognize when to trust a site. With that being said, they will be checking to make sure every site they use is safe, including yours.

For example, Action’s URL shows the green lock, assuring our visitors it is secure:

It gives visitors the green light to go ahead. The “green lock” level of security required if you’re taking payments on your site. 

What Are The SEO Benefits?

Google has confirmed security as a ranking factor in its search engine algorithm. However, there are over 200 factors that affect search results rankings and HTTPS in only one of them.  Implementing it on your site won’t make much of a difference if you don’t have a continuous SEO strategic plan that addresses the top critical factors such as relevant content and backlinks. Here is a full list of the top ranking factors in 2018 by Moz.

It is important to know that the main reason you’ll be implementing encryption is for security reasons and to enhance your users’ experience, not for SEO reasons.

Better Analytics

One of the advantages of HTTPS is that it preserves the domain of referral sources. This provides more accurate reports on where your visitors are coming from. It is especially beneficial when analyzing the effectiveness of social media and ad campaigns.

Will The Switch Affect Current Rankings?

Typically, with a new URL,  you essentially have to start from scratch to build domain authority. Fortunately, Google will merge the HTTP and the HTTPS signals together, as long as it’s implemented correctly.

In our experience, we see a slight drop in rankings followed by a quick recovery.

Cost

Things to consider when evaluating providers include the data encryption level, web browser compatibility, and price. It is always advisable to go with a reputable provider, which will cost a bit more. Some include it in their hosting plans and advertise it as free, but we find that their hosting price is higher than those who offer it as a separate product. There are some inexpensive options and even free, but they just don’t meet the criteria when there are payment or data collection forms on your website.

Free

The free option will show the “https://” in grey. It’s sufficient for personal sites or businesses that don’t collect any personal information from the users. However, you must be aware that when savvy visitors click on the “i” inside the circle, a window will pop up with the following message:

Paid

The cost of the SSL Certificates depends upon the level of security you require and the number of domains/subdomains you need to cover. The average cost for the lowest tier is under $100 per year, although some offer packages for multiple domains.

You need one SSL certificate for each domain and subdomain

If you have several websites you will need one for each domain. For example, if you have your website on one platform and a separate blog site,  each will need it’s own SSL certificate. Since it’s tied to the domain and hosting, you need to get in touch with your domain/hosting company as ideally get it from them. They each offer different packages so you want to evaluate what they offer carefully.

Higher price tiers will include subdomains or multiple sites. The top level is the Extended Validation SSL, which offers the highest level of encryption and should be used whenever there is highly sensitive data being exchanged, such as the case for banks and software companies, as well some large eCommerce sites.  This type of certificate shows not only the lock but the entire name of the company in green:

If your business is your livelihood, you want to make sure you have what’s necessary to provide the best possible experience for your clients and prospects. Making the right decision is important so you don’t have to spend money correcting things later, nor you spend more than is necessary.

Installation

As far as installation, this is something you might be able to do yourself, or if you want nothing to do with tech stuff, your webmaster or our team at ACTION. The fees are affordable and well worth your peace of mind.

Correct Implementation

Even though is a fairly simple process, incorrect implementation of HTTPS can have a negative impact in the following ways:

  • Irrelevant redirect links, which can confuse users and result in them leaving your site.
  • Duplicate content: Both HTTP and HTTPS versions of your pages could be indexed and appear in search results. Duplicate versions of your site being indexed in the SERP can also have a negative impact on rankings.
  • Speed: Since HTTPS requires more touches between your servers and the user, website loading time may increase. This can have a negative impact on rankings, especially with mobile.

We recommend you take a look at Google’s own recommendations and ensure that your team has the capacity to implement HTTPS the right way.

The Takeaway

You really can’t snooze on this one. Google will literally block your site from your visitors, negatively impacting your business credibility.

…Like this below (Ouch!!):

You must evaluate your options, decide which way is the best for you based on where you are going with your business. Avoid quick fix type of solutions that can end up holding up future plans and being very costly in the future.

You Need to Act Now

If you are not sure how to go about it we are here to help. We will help you decide your best option and implement your certificate for you. Our fees start at $350, depending on the type and size of your site. We will perform a link audit to make sure there are no bad links lingering and affecting your SEO negatively, and everything runs the way it’s supposed to. If you have any questions reach out to us, we are here to help.

By: CJ Larsen

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