In 2014, Google announced that HTTPS would be used as a ranking signal when deciding the position of websites in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS). HTTPS means that the website encrypts information sent through it, protecting any data that visitors submit to the website. In the past, secure connections to websites were generally only associated with e-commerce websites that processed payment details. Google has continued to campaign for all sites on the Internet to use encryption.
Google further announced in 2016 that sites that collected personal details or credit card details that did not use encryption would be labelled as ‘Not Secure’ in the Google Chrome browser. Expected in 2018, all sites without HTTPS will be labelled as ‘Not Secure’. The message is very clear, and that is that Google wants a more secure web with all sites using secure HTTPS connections.
Website owners need to get an SSL certificate to encrypt the connection to their websites. Once an SSL certificate is installed, websites will use the HTTPS protocol. There is really no reason for websites not to move to HTTPS. Visitors to secure websites benefit from peace of mind, website owners have visitors with higher levels of trust and enjoy a boosted ranking in Google Search Results.
The most likely barriers to website owners adopting HTTPS are cost and the technical skills required to install SSL certificates. The cost and technical barriers are likely to be overtaken by the benefits for most website owners in the coming year or two. When Google continues to rank HTTPS pages higher and non-secure pages become the minority, the reasons to make the switch to HTTPS will be too great. Our advice to website owners is to make the switch now and enjoy the benefits of being in the early majority of adopters.