What is HTTPS?
HTTPS stands for Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol. In plain English, it creates a secure link between a website and a visitor’s browser.
HTTPS helps protect user privacy. It works together with another protocol, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), to communicate information safely in three ways: to encrypt data for security, prevent data alteration during transmission, and user authentication.
Having an SSL certificate installed on your site not only ensures user data is secure, but it also has other security and privacy benefits, such as authentication of websites and server communication, and avoiding damage by third parties.
What are your options?
Not all SSL Certificates are created equal. There are different kinds that offer different levels of security. If you accept credit cards on your site or have forms that collect information, you will require a higher level of security than if you don’t.
Keep in mind, as internet security is becoming increasingly important, consumers are constantly being educated so they learn to recognize when to trust a site. With that being said, they will be checking to make sure every site they use is safe, including yours.
For example, Action’s URL shows the green lock, assuring our visitors it is secure:
It gives visitors the green light to go ahead. We recommend that you offer this level of security. Your clients, being educated business people, will expect you to have a secure site.
What Are The SEO Benefits?
Google has confirmed security as a ranking factor in its search engine algorithm. However, there are over 200 factors that affect search results rankings and HTTPS in only one of them. Implementing it on your site won’t make much of a difference if you don’t have a continuous SEO strategic plan that addresses the top critical factors such as relevant content and backlinks. Here is a full list of the top ranking factors in 2018 by Moz.
It is important to know that the main reason you’ll be implementing encryption is for security reasons and to enhance your users’ experience, not for SEO reasons.
One of the advantages of HTTPS is that it preserves the domain of referral sources. This provides more accurate reports on where your visitors are coming from. It is especially beneficial when analyzing the effectiveness of social media and ad campaigns.
Will The Switch Affect Current Rankings?
Typically, with a new URL, you essentially have to start from scratch to build domain authority. Fortunately, Google will merge the HTTP and the HTTPS signals together, as long as it’s implemented correctly.
In our experience, we see a slight drop in rankings followed by a quick recovery.
Things to consider when evaluating providers include the data encryption level, web browser compatibility, and price. It is always advisable to go with a reputable provider, which will cost a bit more. Some include it in their hosting plans, while others offer it as a separate product. The important thing is that they meet the criteria when there are payment or data collection forms on your website.
The free option will show the “https://” in grey. It’s sufficient for personal sites or businesses that don’t collect any personal information from the users. However, you must be aware that when savvy visitors click on the “i” inside the circle, a window will pop up with the following message:
The cost of the SSL Certificates varies from one provider to the next, and it depends upon the level of security you require and the number of domains/subdomains you need to cover among other factors. We use and highly recommend SiteGround, which includes SSL certificates in their hosting plans for as many websites as you host with them.
You need one for each domain and subdomain. So, for example, if you have a custom website on its own platform, with a link to a Sage, Distributor Central or ASI catalog website, each will need it’s own SSL certificate. However, because of the structure of these sites, at the time of publishing this article, you can’t install external certificates on them and you have to use the solution they provide.
Higher price tiers will include subdomains or multiple sites. The top level is the Extended Validation SSL, which offers the highest level of encryption and should be used whenever there is highly sensitive data being exchanged, such as the case for banks and software companies, as well some large eCommerce sites. This type of certificate shows not only the lock but the entire name of the company in green:
If your business is your livelihood, you want to make sure you have what’s necessary to provide the best possible experience for your clients and prospects. Making the right decision is important so you don’t have to spend money correcting things later, nor you spend more than is necessary.
As far as installation, this is something you might be able to do yourself, or if you want nothing to do with tech stuff, your hosting compnay or webmaster will do for you.
Even though is a fairly simple process, incorrect implementation of HTTPS can have a negative impact in the following ways:
- Irrelevant redirect links, which can confuse users and result in them leaving your site.
- Duplicate content: Both HTTP and HTTPS versions of your pages could be indexed and appear in search results. Duplicate versions of your site being indexed in the SERP can also have a negative impact on rankings.
- Speed: Since HTTPS requires more touches between your servers and the user, website loading time may increase. This can have a negative impact on rankings, especially with mobile.
We recommend you take a look at Google’s own recommendations and ensure that your team has the capacity to implement HTTPS the right way.
You really can’t snooze on this one. Google will literally block your site from your visitors, negatively impacting your business credibility.
…Like this below (Ouch!!):
You must evaluate your options, decide which way is the best for you based on where you are going with your business. Avoid quick fix type of solutions that can end up holding up future plans and being very costly in the future.
You Need to Act Now
If you are not sure how to go about it we are here to help. We will help you decide your best option and implement your certificate for you. Our fees start at $350, depending on the type and size of your site. We will perform a link audit to make sure there are no bad links lingering and affecting your SEO negatively, and everything runs the way it’s supposed to. If you have any questions contact us using this form.