As websites have evolved over the past 20 years, our expectations of what a website should be have also changed. For example, with the growing popularity of mobile devices, it is now essentially a requirement that websites look good regardless of what type of device or browser that a person is using to view it. 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). As you browse different websites, you will undoubtedly see some sites that display a lock symbol in the address bar. The lock symbol is used to signify a secure connection:
A secure connection means that all communication between your browser and the website are encrypted and submitted securely, including forms. Obviously, this provides the benefit of a more trustworthy experience for your website visitors 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 either good or 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 add-ons will typically require more work than a simple informational website. There are many online resources on how to convert your website to HTTPS. We have also written our own HTTP to HTTPS migration checklist.
Besides the work involved in converting your website to HTTPS, you will also need to set up an SSL certificate. Depending upon 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 setup your own SSL certificate using 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”.