At this point, you’ve at least heard of HTTPS. As a site owner, you may have thought about it, or even researched adding it to your site. What you want to know now is if it’s worth your time and money.
In short? Yes. All web forms must have it ASAP, even simple search forms.
The long answer is that HTTPS provides benefits to both users and businesses. These benefits include transparency, security, and boosts in SEO.
Several years ago, Google announced that having HTTPS increased your site rankings. Anecdotal evidence has shown a slight increase in SEO after adding HTTPS.
But if you haven’t heard recently, Google is sending warning emails to website owners. The email informs owners that Chrome will warn users if you do not have HTTPS on pages containing user input, any user input. This change will come starting in October of this year with a new release of the browser.
In previous versions, this warning only displayed on pages that collected sensitive information. You only needed HTTPS on those specific pages. Now, any kind of form input from the user will display warnings if it’s on a page without HTTPS. Even search forms.
This is the next step in a move by Google and Mozilla towards forcing HTTPS throughout all pages of sites. Over time, HTTPS will become a required element in your website.
HTTPS provides benefits to both users and businesses including transparency, security, and SEO boosts
So what is HTTPS?
HTTPS not so different from HTTP. The primary difference comes in the extra security. It uses SSL (secure socket layers) to provide an extra layer of security in moving data from your server to users.
To put it simply, HTTP renders your code and information the way you want. Adding SSL to your HTTP creates HTTPS. This deals with the security of your data. Together they provide another layer of security that allows users to feel safer on your site.
Benefits of HTTPS
This process does provide benefits for both your site and your users.
First of all, all data that’s sent on your site, either to your server or to the user, is encrypted and secured. It also provides protection from tampering during data transfer. An HTTPS certificate proves to your users that you care about their privacy and security. This promotes trust in your brand and site.
This is especially important for any site that takes important personal information. E-Commerce also takes advantage of this by providing safe ways for customers to pay for goods. Using HTTPS will encrypt and protect that data so that it’s harder to steal. Both Chrome and Firefox show warnings to users if you try to get that information without HTTPS.
Google also ranks sites with HTTPS a bit higher than comparable ones without. This helps with SEO and visibility. It’s not a huge benefit, but SEO boosts are always helpful.
How do I get HTTPS?
In the past, getting an SSL Certificate was expensive and time-consuming. This prevented them from becoming quite as mainstream as they are now. Today there are sites like Let’s Encrypt that can provide a basic SSL certificate for free. All you have to do is install the certificate on your server.
You can also take encryption a step further and set your site up with CloudFlare. CloudFlare has free and paid services that come with an SSL Certificate. It also does other things like caching your site in case of outages and managing DNS.
Over time, both Google and Mozilla (creator of Firefox) plan on depreciating HTTP. Fewer and fewer sites will be able to get by without it. The sooner you get it set up on your site, the sooner you can reap the benefits it has.