October 8, 2017
What we expect out of a website is constantly changing. With the growing popularity of mobile devices, it is now essentially a requirement that websites look good regardless of the type of device or browser that a person is using. At a minimum, websites need to be readable on a mobile device.
A similar movement is taking place as it relates to HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure). You’ll notice in your browser that some sites display a lock symbol, used to signify a secure connection:
This type of connection means that all communication between your browser and the website are encrypted and submitted securely, including forms. Obviously, this provides a more trustworthy experience for the user as well as making your website and/or company more reputable and legitimate. It also demonstrates that you value the privacy and security of your website visitors.
A second major benefit to having a secure HTTPS website is that it provides a search engine performance boost. As Google has stated, they are now using HTTPS as a ranking signal. This may have a profound impact on your search engine rankings and potentially be the difference between having good and great traffic to your website, especially if your keyword competitors are not using HTTPS.
Converting to HTTPS depends on the complexity of your website and its existing url structure. A website with a lot of internal links, redirects, and 3rd party additions will typically require more work than a simple informational website. Also, depending on how you host your website, you may be able to implement several server-side best practices for your website. There are many online resources on how to convert your website to HTTPS and Google has its own checklist as well.
Besides the work involved in converting your website to HTTPS, you will also need to set up an SSL certificate. Again, depending on your web hosting situation, you may need to purchase an SSL certificate and have it installed by your web hosting provider. If you happen to have full access to your web server or host your own website (and you have the technical knowledge), you could use a free SSL certificate authority like Let’s Encrypt.
Making the switch to HTTPS could be a significant undertaking, depending upon your website. However, the ever-increasing benefits seem to justify the time and cost as more and more websites make the conversion and search engines continue to call for “HTTPS everywhere”.