Have you ever been searching for something online, found a link in google, just to see that the website connection is not secure? This message makes even the most trustworthy websites seem suspicious. For example, Turnitin.com is a website that many schools use to make sure that student research papers aren’t plagiarized.
Of course, you’re not afraid of some hacker stealing your research paper, but what if this message popped up on your e-commerce website when a potential customer is browsing? Many people will become suspicious of your website and decide to buy the product or service elsewhere. In this article, we are going to address the HTTP basics and how it affects your website’s SEO.
What is HTTP?
HTTP is an acronym for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Without going too far in depth, we can analyze the different parts of HTTP. According to Google, “Hypertext is a software system that links topics on the screen to related information and graphics, which are typically accessed by a point-and-click method”. In layman’s terms, Hypertext is the text, pictures, videos and sound that show up on your computer screen.
Moving onto the Transfer part of HTTP, this basic function allows for the World Wide Web to be possible. If two computers both use HTTP, they have the ability to transfer text, pictures, videos, and sound to each other.
The last part of the acronym is Protocol. As per Google’s definition, “a protocol is the official procedure or system of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions”. Simple enough. Putting the three terms together, we have Hypertext (text, pictures, videos & sound) that Transfers between computers and follows a system of rules.
What is HTTPS?
The HTTPS acronym stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. This is simply the secure version of HTTP. When two computers using HTTPS transfer data between each other, all of the information is encrypted. Data encryption is essential for any website that asks for your social security number, credit card numbers, or any other confidential information.
As you can see from the picture above, because our website SEO Smooth is using HTTPS, Google Chrome labels it as “Secure” with a reassuring lock symbol. When customers visit our site, they can be confident that any information submitted to us will be encrypted and safeguarded against hackers.
What will happen to SEO if my website is not using HTTPS?
The only time Google cares whether or not a website is secure is if the site allows for visitors to upload personal information. In fact, if you have a single form on your website that asks for information, your site will be labeled as not secure unless it’s using HTTPS. As said previously, people visiting a website that’s labeled as not secure, is not the best for business. Traffic visiting your site will be discouraged to purchase because of the “Not Secure” warning near the website’s URL. Furthermore, customers that do decide to purchase are susceptible to having their confidential information stolen by hackers. No one wants that.
Besides your bounce rate increasing because of traffic leaving a website that isn’t secure, not much is going to change regarding your website’s SEO. However, with Google’s push towards HTTPS, an opportunity to score higher in SEO has been created. When you switch your website from HTTP to HTTPS, Google will re-crawl the entire site, taking note of any new changes that might affect SEO. This means that you can implement new tactics to improve your search engine ranking, then move your website over to HTTPS, then have it completely re-indexed by Google. This is a clever way to quickly see if the SEO recommendations newly implemented on your website have really made a difference.