With the digital landscape changing constantly and costly updates flooding the market, it can be difficult to identify which innovations provide a real benefit to your business and which are a waste of money. For all web masters, the performance of their website and its search engine ranking is a constant concern, second only to the security of their users and their site.
A switch to HTTPS is the answer many have been looking for, offering them both enhanced website security and an SEO boost.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS stands for Hypertext protocol secure. It’s a device that protects a user’s data, encrypting it to keep it safe from ‘eavesdroppers’, and ensuring that it can’t be modified during transfer. In contrast, existing HTTP sends all user data in plain text format, which means that information like credit card numbers and contact details can easily be read by any hacker who manages to break into the connection.
By authenticating a communication between a user and a site, HTTPS ensures your visitors know they are dealing directly with you, not a hacker sitting in the middle. A fan of anything that increases user experience, Google has announced that going HTTPS (i.e., adding an SSL 2048-bit key to your site) will also be worth a few more points in the SEO stakes.
Secure Socket Layers (SSL)
Secure socket layers (SSL) is something you’ll see referenced frequently when it comes to HTTPS. Installed directly onto your web server, these small data files add a cryptographic key to the files on your site, activating the HTTPS protocol and securing connections between website and server. In short, they are the encryption device HTTPS relies on to increase website security.
The Benefits of SSL
Google’s announcement that HTTPS sites will get a small SEO boost over those running HTTP means that adding an SSL 2048-bit key is valuable even if your site doesn’t manage credit cards or contact information.
It is also worth noting that traffic from HTTPS sites to HTTP will no longer show up as referral data on your Analytics dashboard; they’ll show as direct traffic instead. While this might not be an issue now, as more sites change to HTTPS, it is likely to affect the amount of actionable insight available to HTTP web masters. This means that businesses that make the switch will have a better understanding of exactly where their traffic is coming from, potentially putting them miles ahead of the competition when it comes to targeting specific audiences.
HTTPS and SSL will effectively put an end to man-in-the-middle cyber-attacks on client data, boosting website security by preventing third party interference. The protocol also encrypts URLs and protects browsing history as well as credit card numbers.
As HTTPS sites gain popularity and the benefits of this encryption device become more widely known, consumers will begin to attach higher levels of trust to websites running the new protocol. This means that protecting your website security today could help increase brand trust tomorrow.