As of 1st October 2017, Google Chrome will be labelling HTTP pages with any entry fields (sign up pages, login pages, pages with a search bar) with a red ‘unsecure’ to the left of the URL/address bar. This will only affect user behaviour, not rankings. It has the potential to severely impact bounce rate and conversion rate. However, websites with any payment information areas accessed via HTTP may see their rankings affected.
In 2014 Google made the first announcement regarding its war against unsecure websites. The digital giant warned that by 2017, there would be penalties for websites that aren’t secured under HTTPS protocol. Now almost halfway into the year, an update from Google is due imminently and many websites are still not HTTPS-protected. There has been no official announcement yet, but this is, unfortunately, usually the Google way. With multiple updates occurring every day according to Google’s John Mueller, Google rarely comments or announces when their changes will be made. With the time now upon us for one of Google’s biggest updates of the past few years; is your website HTTPS-ready?
What does HTTPS mean?
HTTPS, or HyperText Transfer Protocol, is a secure protocol (or language) which means all data and information transmitted between the site and users is protected with an unbreakable SLL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. This ensures any data that is exchanged is encrypted via a secure connection and is protected against any malicious third parties or malware that may try to intercept such information. The information is usually nothing to be worried about, until it comes to the point where you need to input your credit card information or personal details into a site. This is exactly what Google is trying to stop in order to protect every day people from cyber attacks on the web – HTTP websites aren’t safe to input sensitive information and are vulnerable to data interception from third parties.
Why is this happening?
Google’s main aim is to eradicate the internet of unsecure sites, and penalise them for being a risk to users’ data and overall security if they do not comply. Google wants to call out HTTP sites for being unsafe for users and leaving them vulnerable to potential attacks and misuse of sensitive information. With the announcement made roughly three years ago, it’s now coming up to the time where Google may punish sites for not making the switch and adhering to its requirements to remain up in rankings. Google is working under the assumption that their users expect a secure and safe online experience and is taking the necessary steps in order to get that from webmasters.
What are the consequences?
In order to carry out its mission of internet security, Google has used what it does best to get webmasters to act responsibly. Sites that remain on the HTTP unsecure protocol, are at risk of being punished by Google as a result – put simply, your site will drop in rankings on Google if you leave it unprotected and unencrypted by HTTPS. With so many huge sites relying on various digital marketing techniques such as SEO, PPC and content marketing to stay ahead of competitors and remain high in rankings, this could be a huge blow to a website that relies heavily on rankings for sales or publicity. The tricky part is – switching can be tricky and can also affect rankings, with even bigger consequences if not actioned correctly. In the digital world, there is a constant battle to remain on top of search engines and some sites are still yet to make the move for this very reason.
As of the end of January this year, the Chrome 56 release enabled HTTP sites to be shown as “Not Secure”, which is the first stage in Google’s plan to eradicate these sites. In the future, Google will label all HTTP sites as not secure with a red triangle to bring users’ attention to the lack of security. If you have a website that has not already switched, complying will benefit you in the long-run and avoid large rankings drops in the long-term. In order to carry this out correctly and eradicate any concerns you may have about switching your site over, we know the ins and outs of Google and are on hand to help!
To remain on top, minimise ranking drops during the switch, and to create a sustainable future for your site, get in touch with us today!