HTTP or HTTPS? That’s the question

Most web users now understand that their activities online are being monitored in some form or another. So it’s crucial for website owners to establish a sense of trust with their visitors. To that end, if you own an ecommerce store or any website, you should move your site over to HTTPS. This is especially important if you’re hosting your own website.

What’s the difference?

The difference between HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) and HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption. Essentially, SSL and TLS are security protocols for establishing a secure link between server and client.

The communication that happens as a result is encrypted, so even if third parties were to intercept the information, they wouldn’t be able to interpret it without the private key.

Why should I migrate over to HTTPS?

There are several reasons why you should migrate over to HTTPS.

First, major search engines like Google will rank your website lower if it isn’t secure. Users of Chrome versions 56+ will see this message:

Secure websites will have the word “Secure” to the left instead of an exclamation mark:

A warning about the site’s security may discourage visitors from purchasing products or services. Even if you have an established and recognized company, such a warning message makes you appear unprofessional.

Below are some other reasons why you should migrate over to HTTPS.

Search Rankings

Bad SEO or search engine optimization can ruin even a company that provides a good service. That’s why it’s important to optimize your website for as many criteria as possible. Images, links, and keywords are all important, but all aspects being equal, if your website is HTTP and another is HTTPS, search engines will rank the secure website higher.

You can find a guide and learn how to migrate your website over to HTTPS for free from Let’s Encrypt.

Establish Trust

Let’s face it, customers have countless options when it comes to products and services online. If they suspect that your website is not secure, then they’ll go somewhere else. No one wants to deal with the headache and frustration that is identity theft or credit card theft. Users who see the word “Secure” next to your URL will feel more confident browsing your website, purchasing, and signing in.

HTTPS gives visitors a sense of security knowing that their data is more secure.

Protect against Hijackers

Without SSL or TLS, any information transmitted between server and client can easily be decoded and manipulated. This can lead to a “man in the middle” attack, where hackers divert the customer from your website to another one. Other entities may use HTTP to interject ads or other malicious data.

Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are becoming the primary device people use to interact with websites. Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project now requires HTTPS, and with Google indexing mobile sites, having HTTPS will give your site better ranking and visibility.

Compatibility

Many apps, services, and websites now require SSL or TLS in order to integrate. Without HTTPS, you’ll increasingly be locked out of their services and benefits. Most, if not all, financial institutions require some kind of security to process transactions.

Competition amongst websites for viewers and users is fierce because of the sheer number of websites that are not only online, but coming online on an everyday basis. That means your websites needs all the advantages it can get in order to rank high on search engines and get views. Not only does HTTPS provide better security, but it’ll give you an advantage over websites since higher rankings and views begin a cycle of more and more views. And this result can mean the difference between success or failure.