Here’s how, and most importantly why…
Having an unsecured website from this point forward could give you more issues than just Google. Your visitors may no longer trust your website. Learn why it’s time to secure your website and how I can help.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS is the acronym for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. It is a protocol used for secure communications over the Internet.
Communications over HTTPS are encrypted between the client and the server so eavesdroppers don’t listen in, no one tampers with the data, and your website data isn’t forged. Useful when sharing your contact details with and eCommerce practice also; we want these comms to be secure.
What is SSL?
SSL is the acronym for Secure Socket Layer. It’s a cryptographic protocol that helps encrypt communications over the Internet.
Typically, if a website wanted to encrypt the transmission of its data between the server and the client, they would purchase an SSL certificate that contains an encryption key that is placed on the server.
Why should you care about HTTPS and SSL?
This gets back to the three reasons why Google is calling for all websites to switch to HTTPS. In order to access most websites, the URL usually begins with “HTTP.” This is the unsecured version of the protocol that transfers data between the web server and the browser on your computer or smartphone. Remember that fear you have of using your credit card online? Well, it’s not just credit cards that are of interest.
Google sees with HTTPS and SSL. They are “Authentication,” “Data Integrity,” and “Encryption.” These three reasons speak to a number of issues that have come up when it comes to communications over the web.
Authentication addresses the issue of verifying the ownership of your website. Believe it or not, there are people out there that make replicas of websites and divert traffic to it in an effort to steal from you. Most people know that they need to check for the Green Lock in their browser before entering monetary information into the website. You can go one step further and verify the SSL certificate to make sure it belongs to the WHOLE website you’re on.
Data Integrity speaks to whether or not the data on the site has been tampered with while it’s in transit. If someone knows what they are doing and your website is not secure, they can tamper with the data transmitted from your server back to the client. We’re talking IP addresses, and other personal bits of information that get picked up that we don’t know about (Even if we are in incognito mode!).
The form submission that the client just sent could go to the hacker and not to you.
Encryption refers to the security of communications between the client and the server so that no one else can read them. This is a key point for commercial websites. While it’s extremely important to encrypt the communications on an ecommerce website, it’s equally important to encrypt the data submitted using forms.
What does an SSL Certificate do?
The cost for an SSL certificate will depend on your needs. There are three types of certificates.
- Standard SSL (Single Domain) – This type of SSL certificate is only valid on one domain URL. This is the one that I mostly use for clients. It does a great job and is cheap as chips per year (on top of your usual hosting) at £40 for the year.
- Extended Validation SSL (Multi Domain) – Also known as a Universal Communication Certificate (UCC) this secures multiple domain names and multiple host names within a domain name. You would set a primary domain and can add up to 99 additional Subject Alternative Names (SANs) in a single certificate. This is great for businesses with multiple sub domains and URLs for different service, product lines or geographic locations.
- Wildcard SSL – This type of certificate is for securing all of the subdomains you may have for a single domain.
Why is 2017 the Year of HTTPS and SSL?
Back in 2014, Google said that if your website was HTTPS it would give that site additional ranking signal in search results (Better SEO yay!). This is a good thing for businesses that have websites that are competing with other businesses for position on search engine results pages. Google also said they wouldn’t penalise the websites that are not secure. Well, at least not with their algorithm.
In September 2016, Google announced that in January 2017 (Now!) they would begin displaying the security of the connection in the address bar of Chrome version 56 and up on pages that display a password and/or a credit card field. This is the beginning of a long-term plan to mark all HTTP pages non-secure.
Google has conducted a number of studies that concluded that visitors do not consider the absence of a “secure” icon a warning. But it should be. This is why Google is taking the extra step to warn users of its browser, which is used by more than 55% of internet users, that the site they are visiting and about to enter their sensitive information into is not secure.
In addition, as part of their long-term plan, Google will likely include pages with contact forms in the coming months. So, while they’re not susceptible to this warning just yet, they will be and you should do something about it now.
What’s the process of changing my site from HTTP to HTTPS?
At Let Me Organise You I am prepared to help my clients make this transition as simple as possible with little to no interruption to your website. This means there are potential issues that can happen, which is why this is not a DIY or Training project (Sorry guys!).
Here are a few of the things I will need to do to get your website converted to HTTPS:
- Purchase the right certificate for your website if you are hosted with me.
- Install the certificate on your website hosting (and all of the geek things that go on at that stage!).
- Update the configuration of your website to point to HTTPS instead of HTTP.
- Redirect all incoming requests for your HTTP website to the location of the HTTPS site.
- Re-verify ownership of your website in Google Search Console and update the sitemap location.
- Update your web property’s configuration in Google Analytics.
- Test and confirm that the conversion was successful.
Keep in mind that while the domain of your website is not changing, the address to get there is. HTTP and HTTPS request your website from two different ports on the web server. Because of this, there is a risk that traffic to your website will drop briefly as Google works to re-index your site. This is also why making sure you redirects are working seamlessly is extremely important.
From here, there are a few things to consider. If you have any social media, marketing or Facebook ads pointing to your website you will want to update the URLs they are pointing to. While redirects will be set up to send HTTP request to the HTTPS URL it’s still best practice to change them as redirects slow the request time and could decrease visitors and conversions.
What do I do next?
This isn’t a decision about if you should make the switch. You need to decide when you will to make the switch to HTTPS. Every website needs to be secure – Not just for your clients, but for Google also.
Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress, is heavily advocating that all WordPress websites to be hosted on HTTPS (So have SSL) as more and more features in WordPress will require it.
Contact Me sooner rather than later so you can stay ahead of the competition and serve your visitors with a secure connection to your business.