October Deadline and Lost Rankings Loom for Websites Not on HTTPS
Google’s now given clear notice to webmasters to make the change from HTTP to HTTPS or suffer the consequences of losing traffic and existing rankings. The deadline for anyone whose site is still on the nonsecure HTTP has been set for October 2017.
What’s the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?
Google’s explanation of HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is that it’s a method of ensuring that your website is secure, while also protecting the integrity and confidentiality of your users’ data.
Three years ago, in August 2014, Google revealed they’d view websites changing the security certificate of their website to HTTPS/SSL as more rank-worthy, although this ranking signal was still a weak one.
Just two years ago, in 2015, HTTPS was considered just a slight ranking signal that didn’t make a huge difference to rankings on the whole, but Google has still been continually looking at means of progressing and prioritising website security. The world’s number one search engine site is determined to make sure the sites users go to via Google are legitimate, safe and secure.
Why is Google Pushing HTTPS?
The motivation for Google’s drive for websites to switch to HTTPS lies predominantly with website security. Earlier this year, Google released notifications that secure-data must be safeguarded. This incorporates (although not limited to) sites that gather customer data, for example, sites collecting personal information or credit card details. The thing with the standard HTTP is that it essentially allows unsanctioned people to worm their way into a device and steal all the valuable information. Google is resolute in wanting to avoid the security breaches by strongly encouraging the move from HTTP to the secure HTTPS.
Explaining the HTTPS Everywhere Campaign
‘HTTPS Everywhere’ is a campaign rolled out from Google, and when talking through the initiative, Pierre Far from the Google Webmaster team and Ilya Grigorik from the Google Developer team, enlightened people on why Google believes every site needs the security Google is striving for.
Their view is that a single search might not divulge a lot about any of us. However, when there’s an accumulation of searches and website visits to see, articles we read and music we listen to online, it soon becomes far easier to collate a great deal in terms of our location, interests, personalities, likes and dislikes, and so much more! With this in mind, Google states that its prime concerns are secure searching, as well protecting the privacy of web users from any possible malevolent attacks.
Three of the main areas that Google is focusing its attention on are:
- Authentication – Is the website visitor on the site they think they’re on?
- Data integrity – Is the data safe when transferred?
- Encryption – Could someone be eavesdropping on the website visitor?
By making a website HTTPS it stops attackers with ill intentions from impersonating the authentic destination site, interfering with data or ‘eavesdropping’ through devices.
The Warning Signs on Google Chrome
In December 2014, Google developers were working on the proposed warning sign from the search engine’s Chrome browser, which would inform people their data is at risk each time they go to a site that doesn’t use HTTPS. They implemented the warning by showing web users a message that the connection they were about to make to a website ‘provides no data security’. Alternatively, they’d see a simple, but clear red cross through the padlock symbol at the start of the web address.
Just two years ago, a mere 33% of websites used HTTPS. This figure has increased, and at this point, the average volume of encrypted internet traffic has now exceeded the average volume of unencrypted traffic. What’s more, when Google does start flagging up warnings on non-secure HTTP sites, it’s likely there will be a far greater shift towards HTTPS.
Granted, there could be some initial perplexity among website users who don’t fully understand the difference between HTTP and HTTPS. This may result in some concern that there’s a problem with a website they have used without hesitation in the past. Largely, people adopt the feeling that websites and emails are private, so by creating an indicator that this isn’t the case, presumptions will be challenged.
Although webmasters will face the initial task of moving a website over to HTTPS, the advocators of Google’s HTTPS Everywhere campaign believe this is a positive step in the right direction for internet users and the internet in general.
Do you need a guide to help your HTTPS migration an easy one? Take a look at the information available from the Search Engine Journal.
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