Google’s Secure Web Agenda and What It Means For Your Website
Over the last few years, Google has been moving towards a secure web, advocating for the mandatory use of encryption and authentication standards to preserve the confidentiality and integrity of all web transactions. The idea is to strengthen all websites on the internet to make it harder for them to be hacked and to make it more difficult for online thieves to steal the personal information of the sites and their users.

The problem is, most people don’t know the difference between HTTP and HTTPS, and believe a secure socket layer (SSL) is only something you need if you have an online store. In Google’s vision, all sites, regardless of whether they’re an online store or a simple blog about your school’s PTA, are to be secured.

Still, Google has made great efforts to educate their audience about the benefits of a secure web. They have been working from an established agenda to make their vision of a secure web a reality. In July 2018, the next update on their agenda will be rolled out and they will mark most HTTP websites as “Not Secure” with the latest version of their Chrome web browser.What does this mean exactly? What does Google want website owners to do and how will it affect your website?

HTTP vs HTTPS

Every site on the web has a URL that starts with HTTP or HTTPS. So what’s the difference?
HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol with HTTPS standing for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure. The word ‘secure’ is the only difference between them. But it’s a huge difference.

HTTP websites on Google are not secured sites and you can identify them on Google Chrome’s address bar because an ‘i’ in a circle appears before the address.

HTTPS websites are secured and you can identify these in the address bar of Google Chrome with a green padlock icon and the word ‘Secure’ next to it preceding the URL.

How Will Google Warn Users of Unsecured Websites?

When Google announced earlier this year that their July update would see them mark all non-secured or HTTP websites as “Not Secure”, it wasn’t unexpected. For years now, Google has been telling web developers that this was coming and encouraging them to secure their sites before they began to mark them as not secured. They even gave users an incentive to do so, rewarding secured websites (HTTPS) with a boost in ranking on the popular search engine.

All of their efforts seem to be paying off when you consider:

  • 81 of the top 100 websites on the web are secured HTTPS
  • Up to 68% of all Android and Windows traffic on Google Chrome is secure
  • Up to 78% of all Chrome OS and Mac traffic on Google Chrome is secure./li>

What happens with the update? HTTP sites that now have a circled ‘i’ before their URL in the address bar of Google Chrome will see the addition of the words “Not Secure” following that circled ‘i’ and preceding the site’s URL.

What’s Impact Will This Update Have?

With over 50% of all internet users utilizing Chrome on their desktops, laptops, and mobile devices, the significance of all unsecured website is great. Warnings often affect how users feel about visiting a given website and may prompt some to leave for another site that is secured. For businesses, that may translate to an increased bounce rate and decreased number of advertising impressions, affiliate clicks, and sales.

Regardless of where you are in the world, the need to secure your websites by upgrading to HTTPS is clear. Even for the countries with the lowest Google Chrome use being approximately 39%, it’s too big a portion of potential business to leave on the table.

Should You Upgrade to HTTPS?

For those who were even familiar with SSL, unless they had a compelling reason to do so (like a credit card gateway for an e-commerce site), they often didn’t worry about it because of confusing technical aspects and the cost. In the past, it wasn’t unusual for an SSL to be $100 for one year for one website.

Today, obtaining an SSL to secure a website is easier and a lot more affordable. Many web hosting companies are now either offering SSL certificates for free or at low cost. Let’s Encrypt is another great, affordable option for web developers to use. Yet, while hosting companies are making it easier to acquire SSL certificates, implementation is usually the responsibility of the website owner.That leaves the technical issues to confront and there’s much to consider there. There are mixed content issues, where a secure webpage links to a webpage asset that’s using an insecure URL, changing all links to HTTPS, configuring the SSL to work with your website’s hosting, and more. Depending on the size and scope of a given website, the conversion can be quite a project.

Are There Other Advantages to Upgrading to HTTPS?

There are many advantages to upgrading to HTTPS aside from avoiding Google’s “Not Secure” label.

  • Increased Google Ranking/SEO: As mentioned earlier, Google is ranking HTTPS sites higher than their HTTP counterparts when it comes to ranking in their search engine.
  • Security: The SSL encryption protects your information and that of your users from hackers and online thieves.
  • Consumer Confidence: Users will recognize that your site is secure and feel safer in doing business with your site than they might with a similar, unsecured site.
  • Increased Conversions: While many users don’t understand terms like SSL, they know enough to know that the padlock icon in the address bar of their web browser means the site has put forth efforts to keep their information safe. That feeling of safety will increase your number of conversions.

Secure Your Site Today

Need to upgrade your site but need help with the technical aspects of doing so? Our team at Payneless Media can help you. Contact us today so we can review your site and craft a plan of action for getting your site secured and compliant with Google’s policies. Not only will upgrading to HTTPS help improve the rank of your website in Google, it will give your visitors peace of mind in safely conducting business on your website. Contact us today and we’ll get started.

7 Website Mistakes That Will Destroy Your Business Before You Even Start

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