HTTP vs HTTPS
What Does it Mean For Your Website?
Technology is evolving at a rapid rate. As of 2022, approximately five billion people use the internet worldwide, which represents 63% of the global population. The Internet, its infrastructure, and how we as consumers access and connect to information is in an endless state of continuous change. While this presents many opportunities and conveniences in the way that we bank, shop, interact, and consume information, it also presents a new wave of risk.
Given the sheer number of worldwide Internet users, it’s no surprise that every day thousands of consumers fall victim to Internet scams, fake or fraudulent websites, or worse, have their data hacked. One of the key elements of improving web security is building multiple layers of protection. The switch from HTTP websites to HTTPS represented a significant step in that direction.
The ‘S’ Makes All the Difference
COPY: HTTPS is not a new thing. Its origins lie way back in 1994, in fact, but it did not really catch on in the mainstream web until Google announced that it wanted to see ‘HTTPS Everywhere’ starting around 2014. Google reasoned that a global shift to HTTPS – while complicated – would drastically improve everyone’s security.
Given that Google is one of the largest companies in the world, coupled with the fact that they began to ‘incentivize’ the shift by boosting HTTPS sites in search results over HTTP sites, it’s now very, very uncommon to see a standard HTTP site anymore. But what exactly is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?
It boils down to one element – that extra ‘s’ stands for ‘secure.’
Encryption in Layers
HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) has no level of encryption between a user and a website. For example, if a website is HTTP, there would be no degree of encryption between you, your data, and the website. That means that if you were to share any personal information, including personal details, credit card information, your email, and so on, it is very possible that this information could be accessed by a third-party somewhere in the non-secure connection that occurs between you and the site. Scary, right?
Luckily, HTTPS, or HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure, is the solution. Sites using HTTPS first encrypt information, and then exchange it. Using HTTPS, computers use a code to scramble messages, data, and information so that no third party can read the information, keeping it safe and making it extremely difficult to decrypt. HTTPS and codes can only become operational through a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate that ensures the site is securely encrypted. The image below is a great visual representation of this:
Source: Indago Digital
Beat the Bounce Rate
Google has now updated their security so that when a website is classified as HTTP, a warning message will pop up saying the website is “Non-Secure” on both incognito and normal viewing modes in Google Chrome. For those who don’t switch to HTTPS, this message could be a hard-hitting blow to web traffic, impacting click-through rate (CTR) as well as potentially costing sales and brand adoption. Consumers will be more hesitant to enter personal information and payment details on non-secure websites which could result in higher bounce rates, hesitancy, as well as a complete avoidance of HTTP websites in general.
On the other hand, those that do update their HTTP website to HTTPS will display a “Secure” message on Chrome browsers and will receive a slight rankings boost.
Certification is the Key to Success
While many appreciate Google’s commitment to the safety and security of its users, the downside of these changes is that there is widespread impact on SEO efforts. Transitioning your website to HTTPS will improve your SEO rankings, and those websites which remain HTTP will likely fall below the rankings.
So, how do you shift your website from HTTP to HTTPS? You’ll need an SSL certificate. While getting an SSL certificate can be done numerous ways, the easiest and most secure way is to go through your host. Depending on your website, your host could be GoDaddy.com, Bluehost, or SiteGround.
Purchasing an SSL certificate can be fairly affordable depending on your website, its size, and its functionality. However, if you don’t know who your host is, or if you have additional questions, we can help. The team at William Joseph is also able to help you obtain a valid SSL certificate, whether you’re a current client or not.