Internet security and privacy continue to be the most talked about subjects online. There are few topics that generate so much attention from the press and government, and yet, they are subjects that continue to baffle most users. From massive data breaches numbering billions of private accounts, to the infamous “Snoopers Charter”, it seems more important than ever to make your own business website secure. So, why do so few businesses make the change?
The answer is simple – it’s believed to be costly and too risky. Following the initial launch of HTTPS (Secure) websites, many businesses found that they lost their organic positions in Google, and this led to many business owners deciding not to make the change. If this is all sounding very familiar, read on, as the latest search data has revealed a fundamental shift in search and user expectation.
HTTPS GROWING IN SEARCH
SEO analyst Dr. Pete shared on Twitter last week his latest findings – HTTPS sites accounted for 45% of first page search results, and it is expected that by June 2017, 50% of all sites in the top of the SERPs will be HTTPS.
Google has been encouraging webmasters and business owners to move to secure websites for several years now, so it really should be no great surprise that we are seeing a shift away from the traditional HTTP format to the safer, more secure HTTPS format.
SECURE SITE TIMELINE
HTTPS, which is also called HTTP over TLS, or HTTP over SSL, has been providing secure connections on the Internet since 1994, when Netscape Communication first created it for the Netscape browser. In 2000, a now famous paper was published that provided technical guidelines on how to set up HTTPS.
It was the rapid growth of ecommerce sites that promoted a migration to HTTPS initially, but in recent years, data breaches, hacking and other privacy concerns has led to the call to make all the Internet more secure.
MOST WEBSITES ARE NOT SECURE
In March 2016, Wired reported that most of the world’s websites are not secure. In that article, Google’s HTTPS evangelist explained why everybody should use it: “If you’re on HTTP, the entire URL and page content is visible to anyone on the network between you and that site. Every page you went to on that site. Any search terms. What articles you’re reading. If you’re on HTTPS, only the domain of the website is visible and not the page you’re looking at. Anyone on the network can still tell what website you went to, but it’s very difficult to determine what you did on that site.”
HTTPS AS A RANKING SIGNAL
It was almost three years ago that Google first announced that HTTPS was a ranking signal, although at the time, it did not appear to be a particularly strong signal. However, even then Google was calling for “HTTPS everywhere” on the web.
If you have been following Google’s official webmaster blog, you will have seen that they followed this up several times in 2016, most notably with Continuing to make the web more mobile friendly in March, and then Here’s to more HTTPS on the web! in November.
It is therefore no surprise that this has become a much stronger ranking signal in the last few months, and it is for this reason that we encourage our clients to at least consider making the move from HTTP to HTTPS. If your business website is in need of an update to modern standards, contact FSE Digital today.