Have you ever wondered why some websites start with HTTP, while others start with HTTPS? Or perhaps you’ve seen an indication in your browser that the website you’re viewing is “Secure” while others are not?
In their infancy, security protocols were often used on sites that collected data sensitive to user privacy. Think along the lines of credit card information, social security numbers and even mailing addresses.
In years since, security protocols have grown in popularity and are now used in many different verticals including HVAC, plumbing and electrical industries. One player you can thank for the bulk of this change is Google.
Along with changing the way that your website looks within a browser, having a secure website also changes the way that search engines look at your website. You may have heard that search engines prefer sites that are secure. This is correct.
Starting in 2014, Google began prioritizing security in efforts to serve their audience with a better user experience. In 2017 the Google Chrome browser began labeling sites without security protocols as “Not Secure” within the URL display. More and more, sites that offer a secure browsing experience are seeing increases in their rankings and more competitive advantages in organic search. With strong indications that security is a top priority in the search industry, it’s imperative that local businesses keep this in mind as they build out their digital strategies moving into 2018.
What are the Benefits of Having a Secure Website?
The long and the short of it is: having a secure website better protects your users from malicious attacks and keeps the layers of communication between your website and its users safe.
Outside of this benefit, it’s also a factor that search engines look at when comparing the hundreds and thousands of options available for any given search query. User security is a benefit that search engines look for when pitting one website against another. With the end goal of providing end users with the best experience possible, search engines have embraced security protocols and their ability to serve a better user experience.
While there are hundreds of different factors that play into search engine ranking algorithms, having a secure website could provide you with a competitive advantage. With heavy hitters doing all they can to rank in a competitive landscape, adding security to your website is one piece of the puzzle that you don’t want to miss.
What is HTTPS?
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) defines the way that computer systems are able to standardize and communicate with data found on the World Wide Web. Without getting into the nitty-gritty details, Hypertext Transfer Protocol functions as the base layer that website browsers use to add human context to the numbers and code behind the curtain.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) encrypts data during the communication process so that it cannot be modified, corrupted or tracked without detection. This added layer of protection authenticates the identity of the website, ensuring that the user is being communicated the right data, protecting against man-in-the-middle attacks which prompt users to share information with the wrong party.
Should I Have Transferred to a Secure Website Already?
It depends. As mentioned in the beginning of this post, website security was born out of a necessity to safely access and share sensitive information on the World Wide Web. For verticals that did not require the transfer of sensitive information, the migration to a secure protocol could prove to be costly, time-consuming, and could even lead to drops in organic visibility if done incorrectly. For most businesses, the juice was not worth the squeeze.
In this time, many websites had to bear the burden of shaky keyword fluctuations as search engines tested and perfected the way that website security fit into their ranking algorithms. With a change made to the application layer of a website, search engines were not as readily capable of identifying the history of a site or its pages and struggled to assign authority that had built up over time. If you were to migrate your site to HTTPS during this time, it was as if you had launched a brand new domain! For webmasters around the world who had taken the time to develop longstanding authority in their niche, this was a very difficult hurdle.
At this point, however, search engines have fine-tuned their algorithms, and can now recognize past authority and assign it to the newly launched protocol. Website security has withheld the test of time and is a smart addition to building the trust value of your site.
If you haven’t previously considered migrating to a secure application protocol, now is the time.
What Can I Expect When I Transfer to a Secure Website?
The process for adding a layer of protection to your website security has evolved, and it’s now easier than ever to apply a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) into your website application. When migrating to HTTPS, there are many different factors that must be looked after in order to ensure that the transition is smooth and will derive the greatest benefit for search engine optimization and end users alike.
For all intents and purposes, one of the most important considerations is that a user can quickly and easily access your site, even if they use the old URL. When transferring to HTTPS, it’s imperative that you set up redirects so that search engines and users will be directed to the correct page.
Along with this step, there are also many different checkpoints that need to be addressed to provide the highest level of user experience, and to avoid any of the technical pitfalls that may hurt organic performance. Your digital provider must consider the best SSL certificate for your domain’s needs, how the hosting of your domain impacts the migration, where images are stored, whether website tracking is appropriately updated and even how external links to the old domain will be handled for streamlined performance.
When choosing a partner to help migrate your website to a secure protocol, make sure that they have set an action plan for retaining and tracking organic performance. Without the appropriate quality checkpoints in place, you may not catch a small error – making a switch for SEO benefit moot. But when done correctly, migrating your website to a secure protocol can prove to have strong benefits in user experience and organic search. To learn more, reach out to iMarket Solutions today!
Have questions about the organic performance of your HVAC, plumbing or electrical website? Reach out to iMarket Solutions today to learn more!