In case you have not heard, Google recently announced they would begin using website security features as a variable for determining search rankings. If your site already has HTTPS security in place across your entire website then you are on the fast track. If not, then this is something you should be thinking about right away!
Word Soup and Salad
This is not meant to be a deep tech post, but let me get some acronyms on the table for you. HTTPS stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure, which is a roundabout way of saying HTTP which has been layered over an SSL/TLS security protocol. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and TLS stands for Transfer Layer Security.
I could go on, but I’ll spare you. What you really need to know is that the SSL enables TLS, which secures the information passing between your browser and the website. You have the confidence that this is happening when you see an HTTPS in your address bar.
What Does Google Have To Do with It?
Historically, you needed this layer of security to handle sensitive information like credit card numbers and personal data. This ensures there is no sneaky code or data thieving at work copying your information. In the search for ways to better judge website credibility in order to improve search results, the eye of Google has fixed its gaze on security.
Google stated that initially they will view HTTPS security as a ranking factor that will impact about 1% of searches. This seems fairly minor. However, they then said that as people have more opportunity to migrate their sites to HTTPS security they are likely to increase the weighting of this factor. Keep in mind, Google has “called for HTTPS everywhere on the web.” If that is their agenda, then they will slowly but surely push things in that direction.
Plans for Change
This kind of behavior is not new for Google, but this particular change is somewhat uncharacteristic for them because adding this additional security to your website is not cheap and it is not something that a lot of webmasters have the skills to do on their own. SSL certificates start at about $70 per year.
You then need to install the certificate on your server and migrate your site from HTTP to HTTPS. That’s an easy sentence to type but only about 1 in 1000 people know what that really means, and only a fraction of them can actually do it.
Unfortunately, this process and expense is something that everyone needs to start thinking about, even casual websites like blogs and company pages that do not handle financial transactions. Plus, most sites that have HTTPS security, only have it on their transaction pages. They will need to add security to the rest of their site as well. And if you are planning on building or launching a new site, definitely get the security setup on the ground floor when it is easier and more affordable to do.
The Take Away
Do not sit on this, start the planning process now to see what it will take for your organization to get your entire website under the HTTPS umbrella. Keep in mind that this may also increase your credibility with your website users, so the benefits could be bigger than just search engine optimization.