Does your website currently have an SSL (secure socket layer) certification? If not, you need to remedy that as quickly as possible. Back in January 2017, Google announced that its Chrome browser would begin displaying the phrase “Not Secure” next to the URL of unsecured web pages. Essentially, any site that took passwords or credit card information, but that was operating over an HTTP connection would receive that “Not Secure” designation. With HTTP connections, any information sent between the website and the browser is unsecured, meaning that it can be intercepted by third parties. Sites that operate over secure HTTPS offer an encrypted connection, protecting your data and preventing anyone else from being able to view your password, credit card information, etc. Secure sites show a padlock and the word “Secure” next to the URL. Now’s the time to switch your HTTP site to HTTPS.
More Changes to Come
The announcement in January was just one of the first steps that Google and Chrome have taken. They announced in April that “Beginning in October 2017, Chrome will show the “Not secure” warning in two additional situations: when users enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode.” This extra step is expected to roll out with Chrome Version 62, which is supposed to be released in mid- to late-October.
If your site has a sign-up or contact form on it and you’re not presently using HTTPS, you’ll soon start seeing “Not Secure” next to your URL when using Chrome. Google even emailed a warning about this impending change back in August.
After this, it’s anticipated that eventually all HTTP sites will show up as “Not Secure” even if they don’t have any sensitive fields. HTTPS will become the web standard for all sites and other browsers are likely to follow in Google’s footsteps if they haven’t already.
Why Switch to HTTPS?
First and foremost, it’s in the best interest of your customers. HTTPS protects the privacy of your website’s users. Any unsecured information that passes between your website and your site visitors offers unscrupulous individuals an opportunity for exploitation. Once all of your pages are secured, your customers can rest assured that all of their information will remain safe.
Secondly, it’s in your best interest. It protects your website from security vulnerabilities. In addition, having the padlock and “Secure” designation on your web pages goes a long way in establishing your company as a trustworthy entity. Google has also previously stated that it takes whether a site has an SSL certification into consideration for search engine results rankings. So, an HTTPS site will rank higher than an HTTP site in search results.
And, as mentioned before, HTTPS is going to be the standard. Presently, there are a number of new technological and browser features that will not work without it. It will become an essential element of every website in the very near future. One last benefit: HTTPS is faster than HTTP. Fast loading times improve the user experience, which is also a factor that’s taken into account for search results rankings.
How Do I Get an SSL Certificate and Switch to HTTPS?
It will take some time and effort to get your secured site up and running. As there are a number of steps involved, we aren’t going to provide the entire process here. We will provide a quick look at some of the more basic steps. You’ll need to purchase an SSL certificate and install it. Many web hosting providers also offer SSL certificates and frequently, they’ll take care of the installation process, too. Alternatively, Let’s Encrypt offers free certificates, which work perfectly for small businesses with limited budgets.
You’ll need to go through your site to change any hard-coded links to HTTPS. You’ll also need to add any 301 redirects for all of the new URLs.
Google will consider this a Change of Address, so it will be necessary to follow that procedure. Your URL information in Google Analytics will also need to be changed. (Google has its own set of best practices that you can check out.)
There are lots of other steps involved in the process, which will vary depending on your site’s setup. Smashing Magazine has put together an amazingly thorough guide on making the switch from HTTP to HTTPS. Not only does it go through everything in great detail, but it includes an amazing amount of information.
If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of handling the switch on your own, we’re here to help! We offer an SSL Certificate Package that includes everything you need to get your site from “Not Secured” to “Secured.” It can be a long and complicated process, so leave it to the professionals at Green Monkey Marketing and we’ll get you squared away in no time!