You might have heard the term ‘https’ over the past few years but if you’re unsure of what it means, and want to know why that additional ‘s’ is important read on…
What exactly is https?
When you visit a new website do you ever check the address bar for that reassuring little lock? I certainly do and you probably do too, even without realising.
But what does that have to do with HTTPS you ask? Well, everything and here’s why.
The lock means the website you’ve landed on is HTTPS. That’s Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure and the ‘S’ importantly stands for secure.
Actually, in full the ‘s’ represents SSL or Secure Sockets Layer. Read on to find out more about SSL certificates and the role they play.
When a website is HTTPS, it means the connection is secure. Without it hackers could intercept any data you send to that site. HTTPS encrypts the connection between the browser, unlike a non-secure HTTP site.
What’s an SSL certificate?
An SSL Certificate is a set of data files that you can add to your server to achieve an encrypted connection between a browser and your server. When installed, the little padlock will be displayed when users visit your site, letting them know the site is secure.
While I’m on the subject of SSL certificates, all of our website designs come with a free 12 month SSL certificate to secure your website and display as https, thumbs up to that.
Is https important for SEO?
Yes, it is… but more important is the experience for your users.
Back in 2014 Google announced that https would become a ranking signal. Today, the impact on ranking is minimal but that’s no excuse to not switch your site to include that small but mighty ‘s’.
You have to think about the user here. Are they going to use a website which displays as ‘not secure’, especially if they have to enter personal data? I don’t think so.
For Google, being https is a contributing factor to improving the experience for the user, hence a site which is https vs an almost identical site which isn’t will quite possibly rank higher.
Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes explains how having and not having https would affect two similar sites, “If all quality signals are equal for two results, then the one that is on HTTPS would get … or may get … the extra boost that is needed to trump the other result.”
How do I switch to https?
In theory switching to https is pretty straightforward and, to be fair it’s nowhere near as painful a task as it used to be a few years ago. However it is still leans towards the techy side of things.
Put simply, switching to https looks a bit like this…
Step 1 – Purchase an SSL certificate
Step 2 – Install the SSL certificate on the hosting account for your website
Step 3 – Switch all your links to https and be sure to check rigorously to avoid having any broken links on the site
Step 4 – Set up 301 redirects from HTTP to HTTPS so that search engines are notified that your site’s addresses have changed and so that anyone who has bookmarked a page on your site is automatically redirected to the https address after you flip the switch
So that in a nutshell is everything you ned to know about https, at least all the important stuff anyway.