There’s so many things that go into helping your website rank higher on search engines. A high ranking is how more customers find your business and works as a great tool for lead generation.
But beyond just the tasks that go into building up your website to optimize it for search, you also need to consider website security. At a time when online privacy matters more and more to people, not having a safe website can actually cost you search engine rankings, which can cost you customers.
A key part of this is securing your website with HTTPS. That S at the end can make a huge difference between ranking on page 1 and dropping far down.
We want to help you understand why all this matters and how to implement it in as simple terms as possible. Check it out.
What is HTTPS
You see these on the front of just about every URL. The long answer is it stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. You add in the S for Secure at the end. Essentially, it’s the main protocol used to send and receive data between web browser and a website. You add the secure piece to it to make that data safe during the transfer.
These kinds of secure data transfers matter much more for connections like e-commerce with credit card transactions, banking websites, healthcare, and more. You want to make sure that your data is secure when visiting these websites, and having HTTPS adds that extra level of security. Essentially, it protects intruders, hackers, or others from able to listen to communications between your website and those visiting the site. That means it’s secure for credit card transactions and other similar types of data transfers.
In addition the need for protecting data, Google penalizes sites that aren’t secure by putting them lower in the rankings. But browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari mark or flag non-HTTPS websites to differentiate them. If you see a little lock next to the URL on the left side of the window, that means the site is secure.
How it Works
Without getting too technical, HTTPS is HTTP with Transport Layer Security (TLS, and formerly known as SSL) encryption. TLS uses both a private and public key to encrypt communications between parties. The private key is owned and controlled by the person who has the website. It generally lives on a web server. A public key is used by anyone who visits the site. Only the private key can decrypt the public key so that information can actually be shared across the internet.
How to Get HTTPS
Because users and Google have placed a big emphasis on protecting data, they’ve also made it easier to secure things over the internet. Most web developers or teams have the ability to set up an HTTPS certificate for you. When building a website, most developers should automatically include the encryption. If they don’t, you might want to consider using someone else because it’s an industry standard practice now. But if you don’t have a developer or work with an agency, there’s other options.
DIY website building platforms like Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, and Weebly either automatically give you a TLS or SSL certificate, or allow you to add one as one of the prompts. So if you’ve built your own website on one of these platforms, there’s a good chance your website is already secure.
In addition, there’s platforms and services that can get you an HTTPS certificate. Sites like Let’s Encrypt or Cloudflare can help you get started and get your website secure. Here at Manta, we also can build you a secure website and host it!
Does Having a Secure Website Really Matter?
In a single word, YES! Today, more and more people are putting emphasis and value on their privacy. Even if Google didn’t penalize unsecure websites, users will. Users are hyper aware of sites and services that do not keep their data secure. And if they don’t see that you’re taking care of their information, they will go to someone who will.
Ultimately, HTTPS helps to authenticate your website. It gives it credibility with Google and with those who want to visit your site. If you don’t have HTTPS in your website URL and haven’t taken those extra steps to protect your customer information, you will ultimately start losing customers, if you haven’t already. And while having HTTPS doesn’t stop hackers or vulnerabilities entirely, it definitely helps. Take the time, money, and energy to make sure your site is secure and protected.