Why Your Website Needs HTTPS

If you’ve ever used the internet (which I’m assuming you have), typed in a URL, or visited a website, you’re probably familiar with seeing HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure).

HTTPS can be found at the beginning of most URLs. If you come across a website that doesn’t have HTTPS in front of the URL, it means that the website isn’t using an SSL certificate, and therefore may not be secure.

HTTPS is a secure version of HTTP. HTTP sends information and data between your internet browser and the website you’re viewing. It secures information like your address, credit card details, and more.

As you might have figured out, the ‘S’ in HTTPS stands for secure. Sensitive data is encrypted, meaning hackers and people who are trying to steal your data are going to have an almost impossible task in doing so.

Switching your website to HTTPS is very important for security. This is especially the case if you’re running an eCommerce store – keeping yours and your customer’s details safe is essential.

What Is HTTPS?

Hypertext transfer protocols are used to transfer information from a server to a web browser. When you type in a URL, your browser is communicating with the site’s server. The browser downloads the information so that you can see the content on a website.

HTTP transfers this information using plain text. This ultimately means someone can access the information, so your sensitive and personal information could be stolen.

To protect your information, websites use HTTPS to securely encrypt sensitive information. Data is protected by SSL/TLS, which you may be familiar with if you use an SSL certificate.

When the information is transferred using HTTPS, it is impossible for hackers to read, by using two keys:

  • Public key: Encrypts the data of anyone accessing the server and the websites on the server
  • Private key: Decrypts the data encrypted by the public key. Only website owners have access to this

You may be more familiar with the term authentication, which is just the process of encrypting and decrypting. Authentication stops people from being able to steal personal data.

Why Is HTTPS Important?

If you’re strapped for time, we’ll give you a quick overview as to why HTTPS is so important for your website:

  1. Your website will rank higher on search engines
  2. Instills trust in your customers
  3. Protects sensitive data

Time to stick around? Let’s take a look at each of those points in more details. But before we do, let’s see how HTTPS can affect your website by diving into some statistics.

Years ago, HTTPS was still very important. 85% of consumers wouldn’t convert on an unsecured website. In fact, 82% of all internet users refused to browse a website that wasn’t secure.

In 2018, Google started flagging websites as “not secure” to their users. Not only does this put customers off, but it also gets factored into website search rankings.

With cyberattacks becoming more common, it’s incredibly important for businesses to implement security measures wherever they can. It’s time to ditch the “it won’t happen to me” mindset and start securing your website.

Default protocol HTTPS is currently used by 73% of all websites on the internet. This upward trend is continuing which is great news, however, nearly 30% of all websites still aren’t using HTTPS.

This is unacceptable, and if you’re in that percentage, things need to change. That’s why I decided to write this guide to give you the lowdown on everything HTTPS.

SEO

If you want your website to be successful, SEO is key. While your website’s design is important, it’s no good having a beautiful website that no one can find.

Improving your site’s rankings can happen in various different ways. These include keyword research, Google Analytics, ensuring your content is meaningful and relevant, and lots more.

However, HTTPS can also affect SEO. Google, one of the most popular search engines, now ranks websites by whether they have HTTPS or not. In 2014 it became a ranking factor, so if your website is protected with HTTPS, it will rank higher on search engines.

The company’s HTTPS ranking boost may serve as a tiebreaker when the quality signals for two search results are otherwise equal.

Gary Illyes, Google

Google said that HTTPS would be a ‘tie-breaker, meaning if there were two identical sites, one had HTTPS and the other didn’t, the one with HTTPS would rank higher. Safety comes first.

Trust

For your business or brand to be successful over time, you need to please your customers. After all, they’re the people you need to look after as they will keep your business going.

If your customers are using Google Chrome and come across an HTTP website, Google now labels these websites as ‘not secure’. First impressions count, so if your website visitors see this red flag, chances are they’ll go elsewhere.

Nonsecure websites have a much higher bounce rate than secure ones. Whether you’re building your own website or using a website builder, making sure your website is HTTPS is a must-have.

Protecting Data

HTTPS secures data sent between a web browser and a website. It encrypts the data using an SSL certificate. eCommerce stores should always use HTTPS as sensitive information like your customer’s credit card details will be sent across.

HTTPS and Website Builders

Now you know why HTTPS is so important, how do you actually get this on your website? If you’re using a website builder to create your website, make sure they offer a free SSL certificate.

Most popular website builders include a free SSL certificate, including:

You’ll need to make sure that an SSL certificate is included. Some website builders like Weebly only include one for free if you use their Business and Performance plans. However, you can purchase an SSL certificate via your web hosting provider or domain registrar.

eCommerce Platforms and HTTPS

Online stores must have an SSL certificate to take customer information and payment details. The following eCommerce platforms come with a free SSL certificate:

  • Shopify
  • Wix
  • Weebly
  • BigCommerce
  • Squarespace

With Weebly’s eCommerce plan, you’ll need to turn the security function on manually.

If you’re using a platform like 3dcart, all of their plans include a shared SSL certificate. If you want to install a dedicated SSL certificate, this will cost and can be more expensive depending on the features you require.

How to Make Your Website HTTPS

By this point, I’m sure you understand the importance of HTTPS. Now that we’ve got this far, it’s time to find out how you get get HTTPS set up for your website.

Thankfully, this process is pretty simple, so stick with me while we go through the steps.

Step #1: Purchase an SSL Certificate

You’ll first need to purchase an SSL certificate for your website. The best web hosting services often include a free SSL certificate, so if this is the case, you won’t have to purchase one.

Depending on the type of business you run, you may need a different SSL certificate. For example, large eCommerce companies may need an extended validation certificate. Most web hosting companies’ free SSLs are offered by Let’s Encrypt.

If you need to buy an SSL certificate, my recommendations would be SSLs.com or NameCheap. These platforms offer cheap SSL certificates, as well as pricing plan options if you need an SSL for multiple websites.

Step #2: Install your SSL Certificate

It’s really important that you actually activate and install your SSL certificate. It’s no good having one and not using it. If you’re using an SSL certificate provided by your web hosting company, the company will install it for you. Some web hosts will have the option to turn on/off SSL security, so if you’re not seeing HTTPS in your URL, check with your hosting provider that the SSL has been installed.

If you’ve purchase an SSL certificate separately, a web developer will need to configure your website and install the SSL to the server. If you’re not an experienced web developer, I wouldn’t recommend doing this yourself.

Step #3: Check Any Errors

Once your SSL certificate has been installed, you’ll need to check your web pages to make sure the SSL has been installed successfully.

Source: SSL2Buy

These errors are usually quite straightforward to fix, but other times it can be a little more complex. This is one of the reasons I recommend getting a professional to do the work for you.

Step #4: Notify Google

Remember when we talked about getting an SEO boost by using HTTPS?

Although Google will automatically crawl your website for HTTPS, it’s better to be proactive and not waste any time. You can notify Google about HTTPS by going to Google Search Console.

You’ll need to add the new HTTPS URL to your website’s sitemap. Google will then crawl your HTTPs website and index it in their database.

Summary

I hope by the end of this article you now have a good understanding of how HTTPS can help your website. Remember, having HTTPS can have a positive impact on different areas of your site including SEO, trust, and sensitive data.

In fact, there are no downsides to having HTTPS.

Making sure your website is secure is easy and in most cases free to do. If your web hosting provider doesn’t offer a free SSL certificate, you can purchase one.

When choosing a web host or website builder, security should be one of your number one priorities. Keep an eye out for a free SSL certificate when deciding, and if you’re not sure, contact the company you’re purchasing from to see if they can give you an SSL certificate.

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