HTTP, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol, has long been the foundation of data communication on the World Wide Web. The format connects nodes containing text with logical links referred to as hyperlinks and does not encrypt data while facilitating the flow of information. Its more guarded descendant, HTTPS (Hypertext Transer Protocol Secure), has existed alongside HTTP for years, ensuring that all communications between a browser and a website are encrypted in order to protect the integrity and confidentiality of user data. However, HTTPS was traditionally only used for sites that required the utmost security. Today, the growing ubiquity of the web in everyday life and the degree to which users’ real identities are now tied into their online activity has prompted a rethinking of just which sites should be using secure protocols — with many, including Google, insisting the answer should be “all of them.”
Migrating from HTTP to HTTPS is not a new topic in the SEO community, but 2018 is the year that Google will officially present HTTP sites in a less favorable light than sites that use HTTPS. In its Chromium Blog, Google repeated its recommendation to webmasters to migrate to HTTPS, and indicated that websites still using HTTP will be labeled as “Not Secure” after the release of Chrome 68, which rolls out this July. So, should you make the switch and, if so, how should you go about it? We have the answers.
Reasons to Migrate
- User Trust
Although it may seem like a small change, Chrome users will likely begin to subconsciously look for the green lock denoting “Secure” as they browse websites, input personal information, and make online purchases. The more visible “Not Secure” warning could have the impact of reducing consumers trust in brands, as well as lowering conversion rates among website visitors from all online channels.
- Culture Shift
The repercussions of this change are already being felt by major brands, many of which have not yet made the switch to HTTPS. In his blog “HTTPS Adoption has Reached Tipping Point,” technology professional Troy Hunt successfully pushed the airline company Qantas to switch to HTTPS after realizing his browser was insecure during their checkout process. And they’re not the only brand making the switch – according to Hunt, as of mid-2017, 20% of the Alexa Top 1 Million sites used HTTPS.
- SEO Ranking
In terms of top performing SEO sites, the numbers are even more significant. In mid-2017, Moz projected that by the end of 2017, nearly 70% of page 1 results on Google will come from HTTPS sites. While Google hasn’t formally increased the ranking signal of using HTTPS since 2014, the numbers speak for themselves: according to Moz data guru Pete Meyers, 9 out of 10 of the top performing SEO subdomains use HTTPS. Beyond just providing a good experience for users and protecting their online security, it is evident that using HTTPS is becoming crucial to staying competitive in SEO.
Taking the Next Steps
In terms of migrating from HTTP to HTTPS, there are steps that need to be taken beyond purchasing and implementing an SSL certificate. We recommend working closely with an SEO agency during this process to ensure that your website does not inadvertently create mixed content warnings or other security issues.
At Path Interactive, we offer an HTTPS migration package where our web team oversees the implementation of the SSL certificate, as well as conducts the migration from HTTP to HTTPS across all required URLs and subdomains. Our SEO department plays a vital role during this process, ensuring organic visibility is not compromised. If you would prefer to handle the migration using your own development team, we still strongly recommend working with our SEO professionals to follow best practices to maintain organic traffic and visibility throughout the migration process.
Contact us to learn more about our HTTPS migration services.