Earlier this year, Google announced that it will increase web security and provide better information for users by indicating http sites as non-secure, and giving higher search engine rankings to https sites. As consumers conduct more and more of their personal and financial lives online every year, and as hackers become more savvy in accessing this data, extra security features give consumers and businesses the ability to protect their data out on the web. But what does this mean for your business’s digital marketing strategy?
HTTP vs. HTTPS
First, let's back up and discuss these security features. HTTP, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol, is a computer language that passes information between your server and web browsers. HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. HTTPS adds an extra layer of protection, SSL or TSL, to encrypt data, protect its integrity, and authenticate the data source. When a website uses only HTTP, other devices can observe what is occurring between the browser and the web server. For instance, say you order a product from a website with HTTP, and enter your credit card number. Someone can intercept the server connection and obtain your credit card information.
When the website uses HTTPS, the data receives three layers of protection:
- Encryption: The data is scrambled, making it useless to any unauthorized users.
- Data integrity: Ensures the data is consistent and accurate.
- Authentication: Prevents websites from deceiving users by mimicking other sites.
These layers of protection occur through Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TSL). Both are small data files that encrypt and protect the data as it travels between the browser and web server.
Do You Need an HTTPS Site?
Websites that collect passwords, personal data, or credit card and payment information must be https. If your site includes a payment form, receives form fills, requires login information or other sensitive information, then, yes, your site needs to migrate to https. There are however, advantages to securing other types of websites. A bit controversial, but some SEO experts say that Google will likely give a higher ranking to secure sites than to non-secure sites. (For more information on determining if https is right for your site, see this article from Quicksprout.)
Migrating from HTTP to HTTPS
To transition your site from http to https, you will need to purchase and install an SSL certificate, This can be purchased from your website host (recommended) or other vendors. There are various types of SSL certificates to choose from, depending upon what type of site you have and the level of security desired.
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