Why Your Website URL Should Start with HTTPS

Eric Kazda  |   August 15, 2018   |  Posted in Optimization

Why do I need an SSL certificate for my website? 91% of U.S. web traffic to Google is now encrypted using SSL certificates. Websites who are lagging behind this migration to HTTPS will see significant impacts to their traffic and conversion numbers. Find out exactly what an SSL certificate is, and why it’s so important to apply and install this certificate to your business’ website ASAP.

What is the SSL Certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. This is encryption technology that protects private data going between a data server and a web browser. For example, if you enter in your credit card information to make a purchase, SSL will prevent outside parties from gaining access to your credit card number while it’s traveling back and forth on the servers.

A website that has their SSL certificate will have a URL that starts with HTTPS. This signals to visitors that the website carries this encryption technology. There are multiple types of SSL certificates based on the extensiveness of the validation process and how many domains and subdomains you’d like it to apply to.

3 Reasons You Need an SSL Website Certificate

1. How visitors see your website has changed

Chrome & Firefox web browsers have changed how they show secure URLs vs unsecured URLs to their users. They initiated this change to encourage all websites to upgrade to secured URLs.

This is how an unsecured URL appears to website visitors in the older and new versions of Google Chrome.

Example of what Chrome looks like without an SSL

Source: TechCrunch

Yikes! Google’s movement towards HTTPS is rooted in a positive user experience. They want users to feel safe while navigating the internet and conducting a variety of confidential tasks.

2. Your SSL certificate will improve your search rankings.

Google has hinted in the past that they would bump your search rankings once you installed this additional encryption. They didn’t want to highlight websites that weren’t secure in their top search pages. Your competitive advantage may decrease once most sites are using HTTPS, but it’s still best practice for SEO.

*Since Google treats a HTTPS migration as a URL change, there’s a chance it will temporarily affect your traffic. This is similar to when you launch a new website. The traffic numbers should recover and even improve within a few months.

3. HTTPS sites decrease their bounce rates by decreasing fear.

If someone visits your website and is told by their trusted browser that the site isn’t safe – what are they likely to do? Leave! That means high bounce rates and low conversion rates. Switching to HTTPS will ensure that your site’s security is not the cause of any bounce rate issues.

Bonus Reason: It Protects Your Customers

HTTPS encryption protects your private customer data. A great business knows how important it is for a customer to trust you. Installing your SSL certificate shows you value their trust!

How to Migrate Your Website to HTTPS

While more content management systems like WordPress are attempting to make it easier for a site to get their SSL certificate, we still recommend using a professional. A web developer can help you obtain the right security certificate for your website. They will evaluate how many domains you need to cover and how robust the certificate needs to be based on your business model.

A professional can also help you enact best practices and avoid common mistakes when migrating your site. Here are a few common pitfalls listed by Google:

  • Letting your SSL certificate expire
  • Blocking robot.txt crawlers from your HTTPS site
  • Blocking search engine indexing of your pages
  • Embedding HTTP content on an HTTPS page

Any one of these errors could impact your website’s performance. If you have not yet received an SSL certificate for your website, contact your web developer immediately! Switching to HTTPS will be better for your customers and for your bottom line.

Let us know if you have any questions about SSL certificates and/or HTTPS encryption in the comments below!

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Eric Kazda

Eric Kazda is a leading expert in the interactive development industry with over fifteen years of experience. With a mastery of critical development technologies, Eric has crafted innovative award-winning work for clients both large and small. Coupling this knowledge with a real world understanding of usability and technological feasibility, his work is developed to be accessible by every user.