Three important reasons to switch to HTTPS
HTTPS is not only interesting for websites that process sensitive information from users (passwords, logins, etc.). Find out more about the main benefits of going for HTTPS even if you have an ordinary site.
Switching to HTTPS has become essential if you want to maintain your visitors’ confidence. In addition, it will improve your SEO and make your website faster.
What is HTTPS?
In a nutshell, HTTPS is the secure version of the HTTP protocol (HyperText Transfer Protocol). Both languages are used to transfer information between a web server and a client. But HTTPS adds an extra security layer: the data are encrypted so that they cannot be read or edited while they are being transported.
In addition, HTTPS guarantees that communication is only possible with the intended website. HTTP, on the other hand, does not offer that protection. In an Internet café, for instance, your data could be intercepted, read or even edited, unless you are connected to a website that uses HTTPS.
Who is HTTPS meant for?
Internet users definitely expect a secure HTTPS website when they have to enter confidential information on the website. For example when they must log in using a password, fill in credit card information, etc.
However, an increasing number of “ordinary” websites are using the HTTPS protocol, because users care more and more about their privacy, and HTTPS helps them trust your site.
More than 50% of all the desktop page loads are now served via HTTPS. Most websites in the top 100, including Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia and all the Google sites, use HTTPS. Half the web is now encrypted, as stated on TechCrunch. And you probably do not want your website to lag behind, right?
These are the three main reasons to switch to an HTTPS website as soon as you can.
1. The Chrome browser will show a clear warning on websites that do not use HTTPS
Google is one of the biggest advocates of HTTPS. It has two powerful means of exerting pressure to encourage the use of HTTPS. Google’s first weapon is Chrome, the most popular web browser in the world. In November 2016, Chrome was the standard browser on 53.54% of all European desktop users, and on 50.94% of all devices taken together (tablets, smartphones, desktops…).
Since version 53, Chrome started warning visitors about the security (or the lack thereof) of the connection to a website: an 'i' letter was shown on websites that do not use HTTPS. And when you clicked on it, a neutral warning was shown, informing you that your connection to the website is not secure and that you should not enter any kind of personal details. Websites using HTTPS, on the other hand, will show a green lock, meaning users can trust the page.
Since version 56 of the Chrome browser, which was released in January 2017, the “not secure” message was added on all websites that process personal information without using HTTPS. In the future, this warning will be even more prominent: 'not secure' will be shown in red lettering and there will also be a red warning triangle. In addition, Google wants future versions of its Chrome browser to show such a warning on all websites that do not use HTTPS.
2. HTTPS helps you improve your ranking
Another weapon Google uses to exert pressure is its search engine. In 2014, Google had already tried to encourage webmasters to switch to HTTPS, by viewing this protocol as a positive ranking factor. Sites using HTTPS will get a ranking boost that non secure websites will not get. However, Google wants to go even further: instead of encouraging the use of HTTPS via this incentive, it will soon start penalizing ordinary HTTP sites by giving them a lower ranking, as mentioned on SearchEngineJournal.
3. HTTPS is faster
Still not convinced? In that case, this argument will certainly make the difference. Not only are websites that use HTTPS more secure, but they also load faster. On the httpVShttps.com website, you can see with your own eyes that the non-secure version of the page loads 334% slower than the HTTPS version.
Do you plan to enable HTTPS? Do not forget about this!
If you want to enable HTTPS, you need an SSL certificate. You can read more about this in our articles “Should you go for a free Let’s Encrypt certificate or a premium SSL certificate?”, “SSL: what is it and how does it work?” and “The SSL certificate: what should you do?”.
However, after switching to HTTPS, it is important that you consider the following points:
- Make sure that all internal links point to the HTTPS version of your pages
- Update external links with e.g. Google Search, AdWords, your social profiles, and all other places where your website is mentioned.
- Review the checklist in this migration guide
- Use the Social Warfare plugin to save your social shares in WordPress after migrating to HTTPS