Security is a paramount concern of customers in the technology-driven marketplace today. Your customers insist on it so you must provide it; if you don’t, they will move on to another company’s site to purchase their product. That security must be evident from the moment anyone logs onto your business’ website. If the designation HTTPS isn’t in the URL line, most customers will not continue to your site. It’s that simple and that important.
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. The critical word in that acronym is “secure.” Your customers might not know the technical pathways involved, but more and more do know that their personal information goes through some protected protocols that its predecessor, HTTP, doesn’t have. HTTPS pathways include a redirect and then the information is encrypted to protect it from being stolen along the way.
Identity theft and stolen payment information make this more important than simply keeping up with emerging technology. It can be the difference between a healthy bottom line and disaster. Here’s what you need to know.
HTTPS And Your Customers
Most internet-savvy users know that HTTPS-protected sites will include “https://” at the beginning of the URL. (HTTP sites do not include the “s” at the end.) This alerts your customers immediately that your business cares enough to get a security certificate to encrypt customers’ information. And when you as a merchant are asking for sensitive personal and credit card information, your customers need to feel you are protecting that data.
For our purposes here, we don’t need to go any deeper than understanding the SSL certificate that is referenced in the “S” in HTTPS. An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) designation requires, at minimum, domain validation and some certificates even require legal document validation. Plus, the data sent via the internet is encrypted for transmission. This makes the data more difficult to steal because the data can’t be changed during the transfer of information. Customers won’t do business with you again if their credit card or other personal information can be (or is!) stolen while on your site.
Google went a step farther in alerting internet users when a site isn’t secure. In January 2017, a warning message began to appear next to the address bar when a site isn’t secure. At that point, the user has the option of continuing or finding another source. No business wants their customers sent away from their site.
Valuable data such as login IDs, home addresses, credit card details, and other personal information are kept safe. It also protects online retailers and their customers from identity fraud, guaranteeing each transaction is from the right person.
The issue of identity can go both ways. What this means is, customers can also be at risk from imposter websites. This occurs when someone has set up a fake website to gather personal user information, such as a credit card number. So how do customers know they are on the right website?
The “https://” and a small lock icon next to the address bar means to customers that an HTTPS connection will take them to a secure site. It also ensures it’s the correct web address, not an imposter site created specifically to steal credit card numbers and other personal information. In short, these safeguards minimize the risk significantly.
Then in 2018, the Chrome browser version 68 was released, which is when Google added the “not secure” designation to all HTTP sites. Other browsers joined in soon after. In other words, the sites without secure encryption (HTTP sites) got “special attention,” but not the kind any business wants. The sites were visibly highlighted for putting their customers’ information at risk. And that leads to a lack of trust, a poor user experience, and a weak bottom line.
This change also affects SEO, so you need to meet with your SEO expert or hire someone to help you with this. It’s tricky because getting a secure designation might lead to an initial dip in rankings. But between Google’s new ranking system and a strong user experience, your site can quickly get back up in its ranking and even go higher.
Let’s find out how.
HTTPS and SEO
There is a lot to remember when optimizing your site for the best search engine results (Search Engine Optimization). An important question here is how is my search engine ranking affected by moving from HTTP to HTTPS?
As of 2014, Google began ranking for having an SSL certification. There may be a slight dip in your site’s ranking at first, but over time having a secure certification will help your ranking. Your SEO specialist will also know to migrate to HTTPS during low-traffic hours to use more of your server’s resources. Having a sitemap on your website will help, too. Googlebot can then recrawl and re-index your site more quickly.
Make sure, also, that:
- All your internal links are changed from HTTP links to HTTPS when switching.
- Users are redirected from your old HTTP site to the HTTPS site.
- You have gotten a certificate for all of your site’s hostnames.
- Your certificate is always up to date.
- Your site allows the indexing of your pages by search engines whenever possible.
- The content on both your HTTP and your HTTPS sites is the same.
- Your website gives the correct HTTP status code.
The sooner you transition to an HTTPS certification, the sooner your site can settle in and begin moving up in ranking. The internet community is moving toward all HTTPS, from performance optimization to progressive web apps, and that trend will only increase. Make the switch now.
Aside from search rankings though, securing your site builds trust and improves the user experience. This is what online marketing is all about: building relationships with current and potential customers to meet their needs and bolster your bottom line. You simply can’t afford to lose website visitors for any reason, much less one that can be fixed easily. Get help from a digital marketing company like MyKPI if you need assistance.
Default to HTTPS For Your Bottom Line
There is no reason to have a non-secure site connection. With the movement away from HTTP completely in the near future, HTTPS is growing in importance. Plus, customers know what to look for and have come to expect secure sites as well, so there is no time for delay.
Upgrading your site has become easier than it was initially, but most small business owners don’t have the expertise nor the time to make an HTTPS designation happen themselves. Contact My KPI for the technical knowledge as well as the marketing expertise to transition your site to HTTPS efficiently and effectively today!