Did you know that back in 2016 ahrefs.com performed a study to see how many websites had implemented HTTPS (or SSL)?
The results showed that approximately 60% of the 10,000 websites they tested had not made use of HTTPS whatsoever.
Now, you may be asking yourself…
What is the difference between HTTPS and SSL?
The two terms are often used interchangeably, but that isn’t correct.
To put it plainly, they are two parts of one solution.
HTTPS is the protocol that defines how the client and server negotiate a secure connection.
The SSL Certificate is the document they check and will use to agree upon the server’s authenticity.
So what is the benefit of HTTPS? Why should you care?
Privacy & Security
The most obvious benefit to having an SSL Certificate for your website is it’s intended purpose. The privacy and security of your customer’s information.
You see, the standard protocol for connecting to a website is HTTP. The problem with HTTP is it leaves your user’s data open for anyone with the know-how to intercept and steal without your knowledge.
This includes emails, credit card numbers, phone numbers, passwords and more.
HTTPS encrypts your visitor’s information so that I can’t be as easily stolen.
It Builds Trust
“If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.”Zig Ziglar
From your visitors perspective, your website will have the trusted padlock icon that appears for sites with an SSL Certificate.
And as time has gone on public awareness of internet security has grown, and they’ve become less willing to plug their information into just any random website that isn’t properly certified.
Having an SSL Certificate on your website shows that you have a commitment to providing security for their information.
Google Recommends It
“Beginning in July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as ‘not secure’… Chrome’s new interface will help users understand that all HTTP sites are not secure, and continue to move the web towards a secure HTTPS web by default.”Emily Schechter, Google Chrome Security Product Manager
Google has made a massive push in the last several years to get more websites to make use of HTTPS.
Back in 2017, Google introduced a new feature into the Chrome Browser which helped users to see which websites don’t make use of HTTPS.
Once a visitor started typing something like a password or credit card number into a website that wasn’t using HTTPS, a “NOT SECURE” ribbon appeared in the address bar to inform the user that the website was, well, not secure.
A few months later Google went a step further and made the “Not Secure” ribbon appear on any site not using HTTPS instantly when a user loads the website, regardless of whether or not they were collecting password or credit card information.
And other popular web browsers have followed Googles lead.
But does it help SEO?
We know for a fact it does. How? Google said as much all the way back in 2014.
But Just How Much Does it Help?
In 2015 Google’s Gary Illyes stated that their HTTPS Ranking Boost may serve as a sort of tiebreaker.
Meaning, if your website is equal to your competitor’s website in regards to speed, title tags, content freshness, etc… but your competitor is using HTTPS and you aren’t, Google will most likely rank their site above yours.
But at the end of the day, HTTPS is just one part of a bigger puzzle. Google uses over 200 different ranking signals, and HTTPS will only give you a minor boost. You shouldn’t expect to start using HTTPS and go shooting from page 10 to page 1.
HTTPS is meant to supplement other important SEO practices like:
· Citation & Backlink Building
· Fresh & Original Content
· Keyword Optimization
· On-Page SEO
· And more…
With that said, as mentioned previously the public awareness for the need if internet security has been growing lately, and there is a potential benefit of an increased amount of people clicking on your site as people become more aware of HTTPS.
So why don’t more people use HTTPS?
The biggest reason is cost. In the past, an SSL Certificate could cost anywhere from $75 to multiple thousands a year, and many businesses just didn’t see the incentive to make such an investment.
But, over the last few years that has changed with something called…
The Let’s Encrypt Initiative
Let’s Encrypt is an initiative to bring free SSL Certifications to small business owners. The initiative has been sponsored by major internet giants such as Google, Facebook, and Mozilla among others.
Because of this initiative, many web hosting providers have started offering SSL Certificates to customers for free.
You can see a list of web hosting providers who support let’s encrypt here.
If you find your hosting provider on the list, all you’ll have to do is reach out to them and ask how to enable it, or have a professional do it for you.
If you have any questions feel free to drop a comment or contact us.