Is your website secure enough for Google? – The need for HTTPS

website security

Having a secure website is about to become more important than ever. A Google security update for its Chrome browser, that will fully come into force in July 2018, will mean that insecure websites will be flagged as such to visitors who enter information on them.

While you may have seen such warnings before, they’ll soon be a lot more conspicuous. It could be enough to turn people off entering even basic information into your site if it’s not secure. This will affect your business if you’ve got a ‘Contact Us’ form, a ‘Sign Up Here’ form, or any other type of form – and that’s just about every website on the planet.

We’ve put together this FAQ on why it’s happening and what it may mean for you –

What’s the reason for the Google security update?

It’s part of Google’s ongoing efforts to improve user experience. This includes limiting spam and the possibility of stolen information. Basically, they want sites to load over HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) instead of HTTP.

Why is this important for my site?

Because the Google Chrome browser is the most popular in the world. Approximately 50% of all browsing is done through Chrome. That means if your site is not secure, about half your users will be told so after the Google security update. They’re likely to leave your site as a result. In addition, other browsers are likely to follow Chrome’s lead in the months that follow.

How can I tell if my site is already secure?

That’s easy. Just look at the address bar. A secure site will look like this in Google Chrome:

secure chrome site

The green padlock, and how the address bar shows https rather than http, show that the site is secure.

Currently, if your site is not secure, you’re most likely to just see the symbol ⓘ. It’s not very alarming-looking. A very small number of dangerously insecure sites may display an exclamation mark in a red triangle.

But after the Google security update, if your site is not secure, Chrome will show this:

not secure chrome site

You don’t want that to happen. So if you don’t see a green padlock now, you need to take action.

 Is it difficult and/or expensive to make an insecure site secure?

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. But as with so many other things in life, it’s a job best left to the experts. While it can be relatively straightforward to buy an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate and switch a site to HTTPS, there can be several knock-on effects if other changes are not also made.

For example, there’s behind-the-scenes work to be done in Google Search Console, if your site uses Google Analytics. Again, that’s just about every site on the planet. You need to be sure things are done properly.

We can apply whatever security updates your site needs – and we can do it quickly and cost-effectively. Just contact us for more.

Will being secure help my site’s rankings?

It might. But that’s been the case for some time now, as site security has actually been a ranking factor since 2014.

While Google has previously indicated that it’s only a relatively minor factor, it can still help your site get a ‘push’ over competitors if yours is more secure when all other factors are equal. Additionally, it may become more of a factor once the Google security update is in place.

Where it could really make a difference though is in site traffic and click-through rates.

If your site is not secure, and users get a warning to say so, they’ll be less inclined to enter even basic information such as name and e-mail address. This leads to a drop in traffic and click-throughs – and this can indeed see your rankings fall.

What if I do nothing?

To answer that, put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer who’s on your site and who is about to use your ‘Contact Us’ form.

You then see a ‘Not Secure’ warning. Would you continue? Many wouldn’t. That means all these potential leads and potential customers are lost.

All the hard work will have been done by getting them to the site, and interested enough to want to talk more – but then all will be lost for the lack of a simple security update.

Don’t lose these potential leads to competitors. Make sure your site is secure enough for people and search engines alike. Just contact us to make it that way.