HTTP vs HTTPS
Website security is a top priority - not only for those who have a website but for Google too. The company previously announced HTTPS as a ranking signal - meaning that switching your site from HTTP to HTTPS could give you a ranking boost. But HTTPS offers an extra level of security and is also preferred by Google – meaning that HTTPS builds user trust and in turn may help you shoot up the search engine rankings. When considering the change from HTTP to HTTPS, it’s important to understand the difference between them and whether this move is right for your website
What does it mean?
HTTP = HyperText Transfer Protocol
HTTPS = Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol
It’s all about security, HTTPS is HTTP, but a secure version.
HTTPS offers the best of both worlds. It cares about what your users see visually but also adds an extra layer of security when moving data.
Data sent using HTTPS is secured and offers three key layers of protection:
- Encryption: encrypting exchanged data to keep it secure means that whilst users are browsing your website, nobody can ‘listen’ to their conversations, track their activity or steal their information
- Data integrity: data cannot be modified or corrupted during transfer without being detected
- Authentication: proves that your users communicate with the intended website, protecting against man-in-the-middle attacks and builds users trust
HTTPS and SEO
Google prefers sites which are trusted and certified. This is because users of your site can be guaranteed the site will encrypt their information for that extra level of security. Google claims that websites using HTTPS will have a ranking benefit because of these security aspects. However, it is worth noting that this is a lightweight signal within the overall ranking algorithm and carries less weight than other signals, such as high quality content and user experience factors.
However, Search Engine Land reported that:
“Google may decide to strengthen the signal because they want to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web”
A deciding factor
After announcing HTTPS as a ranking factor in 2014, Google stated in 2015 that HTTPS may serve as a tie breaker if all other rankings signals for two different search results are equal. Meaning that if your website scores the same as a competitor in terms of usability, speed, responsiveness, title tags, fresh content etc. but your competitor’s website is HTTPS and yours is not, Google will most likely rank theirs higher than yours.
HTTPS is especially important for e-commerce websites, as conversions are directly impacted by a website’s trust factor. Adding trust is a direct correlation for gaining more conversions. Implementing HTTPS reassures visitors that webpages and transactions are secure. A study conducted by GlobalSign showed that 84% of users would abandon a purchase if data was sent over an insecure connection. Security is a necessity in today’s digital economy. If you want to find out how you can make your website more secure.