Traditionally, you only needed a HTTPS on your site if you were collecting credit card numbers or other sensitive information. This was enforced by payment processors, government regulations, or the occasional security-minded visitor calling out a site.
But that changed in October 2017 when Google decided to make it obvious to any visitor when a site wasn’t using HTTPS.
Technically, Chrome has always allowed visitors to check your site security. But it was hidden out of the way behind an unassuming grey icon.
Now Chrome has doubled down with a not-so-subtle warning. Clicking it will tell visitors “Your connection is not secure!”
The disadvantages of such a label when it comes to visitor trust are obvious.
But since Google’s update, other browsers like Firefox have also jumped in adding notifications to address bars, sign-in forms, and more.
If your site does not use HTTPS in 2019, you can bet visitors are made aware by their browser and might head elsewhere once they see the warnings.
But it’s not simply about trust…
Not using HTTPS could hurt your search engine rankings as well.
TopRank Blog sums up the situation well, saying,
“If your content is just as good as a competitor’s, but they have HTTPS and you don’t, they’re likely to rank higher on the results page. … If you’re trying to create SEO-optimized content that gets viewed and gets results, not having HTTPS on your site can hamstring your efforts from the start.”
If you haven’t yet done so, implementing HTTPS offers several benefits:
HTTPS uses a secret key to scramble the data going in and out of your website.
Without a key, figuring out what the data actually contains is next to impossible.
This means your visitors can send credit card numbers, addresses and other sensitive information without worry.
The whole process is seamless for visitors and requires a one-time setup for site owners.
Site owners will need an SSL certificate to verify their identity.
These certificates are obtained from hosting providers or groups known as certificate authorities.
Some hosting providers offer free options while others charge.
Once the certificate is set up, using “HTTPS://” instead of “HTTP://” on any URLs leading to your site will check the certificate and enable encryption.
Visitors will then see a green padlock in their address bar to show the connection is secure.
In the early days of HTTPS, setting this up was complicated…
But today, you can often find a service to complete the changes or use a one-click installer to get up in running (and avoid Google’s red flags) in a matter of hours or days.
Curious about everything involved? Check out this in-depth guide from PixelPress.
As of September 2019, W3Tech reports that more than 54% of the top 10-million websites in the world use HTTPS.
If your site isn’t using HTTPS, it’s no longer a matter of not adopting a new feature early–you’re part of the minority of sites not using it.
It’s no longer a fancy feature for the tech-savvy, it’s the cornerstone of a professional web presence.
Consider how often you send bank account information, sensitive messages, images of your family or belongings, and other personal information across the Internet?
How often do you check your Facebook account, Twitter feed, or email?
If the sites you’re using aren’t encrypted, each of these moments are opportunities for people to steal your information as it travels to its destination.
As data breaches and malware continue to make headlines around the world, the public is becoming more security conscious and aware of what they’re transmitting online.
This impacts who they do business with online as well.
Consider this data from SSL.com:
“… implementing SSL and displaying a secured seal on your site can boost conversion rates by up to 87%. More than 60% of respondents in a 2011 Actual Insights study said they abandoned a cart over lack of security.”
Depending on your hosting provider, you might also see faster load times with HTTPS.
According to Kissmetrics:
And as competition continues to increase online, even a small advantage can make a big difference.
Better still, benefits don’t end at your site, Google has made it clear that they prefer HTTPS. They’ve even confirmed it’s part of their considerations when determining search engine rankings…
As more devices connect to the Internet and more people turn to the Internet to make buying decisions, find products and services, and interact with the world, security will continue to grow in importance.
This means site owners must stay up-to-date with the latest tools and techniques for securing their sites as well.
Although switching to HTTPS doesn’t take much time for the average website — and it’s easier than it once was — it’s still a technical process.
Business owners would be wise to contact their site developers or agency partners now if the feature is not already in place.
Adding HTTPS and SSL to a site isn’t just about avoiding the dreaded “NOT SECURE” tag, but it’s a critical part of maintaining an effective and competitive online presence in 2019.