Danger, Will Robinson! – Google forces practices to convert to a secure HTTPS website

Internet Marketing for Attorneys, Surgeons, and Dentists

By Bill Fukui, Director of Sales & Marketing

Ok, so it has been a couple of years since we first mentioned Google wanting “HTTPS everywhere” on the Web and started encouraging practices to invest in updating their website to a more secure HTTPS platform with secure SSL/TLS certificate.   Yet, there are still a large number of practices that have not invested in making the conversion to a secure website.

What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, which is the main technology that communicates between website servers and Internet users. 

HTTPS simply includes “Secure” at the end, but the function is far more important. HTTPS adds another layer of encrypted protocol that creates a safe and secure website transaction.

This video from the Google Chrome Development Summit 2016 describes the difference in more detail:

More websites converting to HTTPS                                                                                                                        

If your practice has not converted to a more secure website, you will find that many of your top performing competitors have already made the switch.  In fact, this fast-growing trend now has the majority of website pages being served up to visitors in a more secure HTTPS environment.  According to Firefox Telemetry, nearly 60 percent of all website pages today are loaded through secure HTTPS.

Even Google reports in its Security Blog that this growth trend in HTTPS web pages continues. In 2017, over 70% of Google Chrome pages displayed will be using HTTPS.  The following graph shows the percentage of pages loaded over HTTPS in Chrome.

Security As A Google Ranking Factor

Although Google started indicating its intention to include web page security as a ranking factor as early as 2014.  Practices need to realize that Google incorporates HTTPS website security in its indexing algorithm.

In addition, a number of digital marketing experts have tracked organic results for client websites after converting them to a secure website and hosting environment.  Nearly all indicate a varying degree of improvement after posting a secure HTTPS version of the website.  In many cases it is difficult to gauge just how much, since many conversions also occurred at the same time as other updates or content additions.

However, most indicate that converting to HTTPS has had some level of positive impact on their organic rankings.

A case study by CloudTec showed a 7% increase in traffic in just a month after converting the website to HTTPS.  It also showed an improvement in the number of phrases it showed up on Top 10 results.

 

Google To Notify Users Of Unsecure Websites

The recent data breach by Equifax only increased consumers’ already growing concern with digital security.  Studies show that the concern of losing data such as personal information, credit cards, etc. top the list of crimes Americans worry most about.  

Even on an International level, GlobalSign’s study indicated that Internet security “is not an option; it is a requirement”:

Most important, the study showed that 75% of users are aware of security risks when visiting a website.

For years, Google has recognized security as a significant part to delivering its users the highest quality results and user experience. And as consumers become more conscious about the types of websites they visit, Google continues to take steps to help them identify which websites have taken steps to become more secure and those that have not.

As part of its ongoing updates to Chrome, Google continues to take steps to notify its users as to the security level of the websites that its users may choose to access. 

Originally, Chrome indicated HTTP pages as “Not secure” if they were password protected or contain credit card fields. To go even farther, beginning in October 2017, Google indicated that Chrome will expand its display of “Not secure” warnings in its index to two additional situations: 1) if users are asked to enter data on an HTTP page, and 2) all non-HTTPS pages that are visited  “Incognito”.

Here is a link to the original post.

Other Considerations

Some other reasons to consider converting your website into a secure website:

  1. Site Speed - Investing in the conversion of your website into secure HTTPS gives your developer the opportunity to simultaneously improve the site speed of the site and pages.  In many cases, website speed has increased after making this update.  This not only enhances your users’ experience, it can improve your search engine ranking.  Site speed is one of the more important user-tracked updates to Google’s ranking factors, particularly for mobile results.
  2. Conversions – As consumers put more trust into your website, your conversions will simultaneously increase when visitors are asked to provide their private contact information.

Conclusion

If you still have a non-secure website (without a secure icon and “HTTPS”), there are a number of important reasons to upgrade the site into a secure HTTPS website.  Not only will it likely positively impact your organic listing; more importantly, it will enhance the level of trust visitors put into you and your practice online as they become more informed and recognize the difference between a secure website and one that is not.

Call us if you have questions regarding HTTPS security.

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