The Difference Between HTTP And HTTPS
Here's the difference between HTTP and HTTPS: HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) connects your browser to sites without any data encryption or security. It's an open connection.
You may be wondering how you can tell. This is my site:
Notice the padlock icon, the word "Secure," and "https." If you see all three, the site is set for secure browsing, which is good!
Now, here's what a site looks like that isn't HTTPS:
Notice the little exclamation point within the circle. Click on it and here's the explanation:
So now you're being called out. Can you see how this would cause potential buyers to abandon your site? Yikes!
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) connects you to websites via a secure manner or procedure. Let me just quote Comodo on the definition:
"Using HTTPS, the computers agree on a "code" between them, and then they scramble the messages using that "code" so that no one in between can read them. This keeps your information safe from hackers."
In other words, making sure that anyone who is snooping on the websites can't see information you input or transmit on the internet.
What kind of information are we talking about? Oh, nothing much that would upset you if it were stolen or compromised (I'm snarking here):
- Full Name
- Date Of Birth
- Place Of Birth
- Social Security Number
- Credit Card Number
When I was a U.S. Federal Government employee, we called this kind of stuff Personal Identifiable Information or PII.This is the kind of stuff hackers can sell to others or use themselves to rob you blind, put you into all kinds of debt and generally ruin your credit.
You probably are asking yourself how the hell this ties in to SEO. Well, nowadays, quite a lot, and as time goes by, even more.
For one thing, it's a minor - for now - MINOR ranking signal in Google's search algorithm. Recently, the search engine said that if there are two pages on the web that could rank the same, one of the tiebreakers (mobile friendly is the other one) is whether either site has been converted to HTTPS. If one is, and other isn't, the one that is HTTPS wins the ranking game for that particular search query.
HTTPS is pretty much mandatory for any e-commerce site. If you directly take financial information such as credit cards, bank accounts, etc., it's a trust factor, as well as a security requirement to have those pages that actually record this information HTTPS.
You can read what Google has to say about HTTPS if you click here.
Notice the very first sentence - "Security is a top priority for Google." That should tell you something right there.
So, if your site is not yet HTTPS, there's a very detailed, specific way to convert your site, and it has a lot of moving parts. I'm not going to go into detail here, but read this from KeyCDN.
This will help your SEO efforts now and in the future. But what if you don't collect credit card information or names, phone numbers, emails? Should you still plan on converting your site?
Yes, you still should, as pretty much the entire internet will be secure in the future. Don't wait around, plan it now.
If your site is really large, and you have multiple sitemaps, I recommend you convert one section at a time, based on your sitemaps. If your site is fairly small, why not just go ahead and get it all done at once?
Want to learn more about the implications of HTTPS, spam, website technical issues and more? Let me teach you basic or advanced SEO, so that you have the knowledge and confidence to optimize your own site!
Until next time, keep it safely between the ditches.
All the best to you,
Screenshots courtesy of author, June 2017